Media motion seeks Edwards juror names at end of trial

May 26, 2012

The Charlotte Observer on May 24, 2012 released the following:

“The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and other media organizations are seeking to make public the names of jurors deciding federal charges against John Edwards at the end of his trial at the U.S. District Court in Greensboro.

In a motion filed with the court Wednesday, the media organizations cited a local rule of the Greensboro court that prohibits the clerk’s office from disclosing without court permission the names, addresses and telephone numbers of people who have served on juries.

The panel deciding whether the former U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate violated federal campaign-contribution laws is expected to begin its fifth day of deliberations Thursday. The jury has not been sequestered during more than four weeks of testimony or during deliberations.

The names of people serving on federal juries is public according to federal law, the media organizations argued in their court filings.

The motion also cites intense public interest in the trial and in how the jury ultimately rules. It argues that “there is no compelling governmental interest in withholding the identities of individuals who served on the jury. Moreover, given that the case has proceeded in open court with jurors whose identities are at least partially known, perpetuating the secrecy of the jury is an affront to the First Amendment in service of a weak interest with no hope of success.”

Joining in the motion are WRAL, WTVD, The New York Times Co., Media General, News 14 Carolina, NBC Universal and The Associated Press.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


John Edwards’ defense team rests

May 16, 2012

CBS News on May 16, 2012 released the following:

“(AP) GREENSBORO, N.C. — John Edwards’ defense team rested Wednesday without calling the two-time Democratic presidential candidate or his one-time mistress to the witness stand, a sign of confidence after presenting little more than two days of testimony and evidence.

The defense had called a series of witnesses aimed at shifting the jury’s focus from the lurid details of a political sex scandal to the legal question of whether the Edwards’ actions violated federal campaign finance laws.

Prosecutors spent nearly three weeks trying to convince a jury that Edwards masterminded a conspiracy to use nearly $1 million secretly provided by two wealthy donors to help hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, as he sought the White House in 2008.

Many people watching the case believed Edwards would testify so the jury could hear directly from the former U.S. senator and trial lawyer, who had a reputation for his ability to sway jurors. But putting Edwards on the stand was also a gamble: It would have exposed him to withering cross-examination about his past lies and personal failings.

Most experts were convinced calling Hunter to testify would have dredged up more negatives and lies. The defense also elected not to question Edwards’ oldest daughter, Cate, who has sat behind Edwards nearly every day of the trial and could have helped humanize him.

At one point during the trial, she ran out of the courtroom in tears during testimony about her cancer-stricken mother confronting her father about his extramarital affair.

The judge told jurors that no more witnesses would be called. It’s unclear exactly when closing arguments would start, but most likely Thursday.

Edwards is charged with six criminal counts including conspiracy to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act, accepting contributions that exceeded campaign finance limits, and causing his campaign to file a false financial disclosure report.

He faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines if convicted of all charges.

Edwards has sat quietly at the defense table throughout his trial, whispering with his lawyers and rarely showing reaction to the often emotional testimony from witnesses who were once among his strongest supporters and closest friends. He has made no public statements since October, following a pre-trial hearing where a judge refused to throw out the criminal case against him.

“After all these years, I finally get my day in court and people get to hear my side of this, and what actually happened,” Edwards said last year on the steps of the federal courthouse in Greensboro. “And what I know with complete and absolute certainty is I didn’t violate campaign laws and I never for a second believed I was violating campaign laws.”

At the trial, prosecutors have shown two members of Edwards’ inner circle, campaign finance chairman Fred Baron and once-close aide Andrew Young, engaged in a yearlong cover-up to hide the married presidential candidate’s mistress from the media. Young, who is married, falsely claimed paternity of his boss’ baby and received $725,000 in secret checks from an elderly heiress, using some of the money to care for Hunter.

Baron, a wealthy Texas lawyer, provided Young and Hunter with more than $400,000 in cash, luxury hotels, private jets and a $20,000-a-month rental mansion in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Prosecutors have introduced phone records, voicemails and other evidence showing Edwards was in frequent contact with Baron, Young and Hunter, all while his mistress was in hiding. Former members of Edwards’ campaign also testified that Baron spoke of “moving Hunter around” in the candidate’s presence and that Edwards told his speechwriter he knew “all along” what Baron was up to.

However, in 14 days of testimony, no witness ever said Edwards knew he was violating campaign finance laws, a key element of criminal intent the government must prove to win a conviction.

The defense also undercut the credibility of Young, whom bank records showed siphoned off most of the money from Mellon to build his expansive $1.6 million dream house. Baron wired another $325,000 to the company building Young’s house.

Jurors were also read a stipulation about a sex tape the Youngs had, purportedly showing Edwards and a pregnant Hunter. Jurors were told Andrew Young considered selling the tape, and during his last personal encounter with Edwards on a rural North Carolina road, he told Edwards he had the tape.

The tape had only briefly been mentioned during the trial until Wednesday.

Before his indictment, Edwards rejected a potential plea agreement with federal prosecutors that would have allowed him to serve as little as six months and keep his law license.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina law school, John Edwards made his fortune handling medical malpractice and corporate negligence cases before turning to politics following the death of his 16-year-old son Wade in a 1996 auto accident. Edwards was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998 and was John Kerry’s running mate in 2004.

Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, died of cancer in December 2010. He is now a single parent of two school-aged children, ages 13 and 11, who live with their father at the family’s gated estate outside Chapel Hill. Edwards’ 30-year-old daughter Cate is a lawyer who married last year.

After years of denials, Edwards admitted fathering his Hunter’s baby in January 2010, shortly after agreeing to pay child support. The girl, now 4, lives with her mother in Charlotte.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


John Edwards gambles on NC jury to avoid prison

April 11, 2012

Associated Press on April 10, 2012 released the following:

“By MICHAEL BIESECKER, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — As a young personal injury lawyer in North Carolina, John Edwards earned a reputation for turning down multimillion-dollar settlement offers on bets that jurors would award his clients more money at the end of a trial.

“The twelve souls who spend full days, full weeks, or sometimes long months sitting only a few feet from you get to know you almost as well as you know yourself,” Edwards wrote in “Four Trials,” his 2003 autobiography. “They take in every movement, fact, word, hesitation, and glance. My faith in the wisdom of ordinary people took root in the mill towns of my youth. But the juries of my adulthood deepened that faith.”

Now the former U.S. senator and two-time Democratic presidential candidate is making the biggest courtroom gamble of his life — that a jury will clear him of alleged campaign finance violations and keep him from being sent to prison.

Jury selection for Edwards’ criminal trial is set to begin Thursday in the Middle District of North Carolina. The sprawling 24-county federal judicial district includes the town where he grew up, Robbins, as well as dozens of other small communities where old textile mills now sit idle but evangelical churches are routinely full.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles, who was appointed in 2010 by President Barack Obama, will preside. She said she expects the proceedings to last about six weeks.

Edwards, who declined an interview request through his lawyers, was indicted by a federal grand jury last year on six felony and misdemeanor counts related to nearly $1 million secretly provided by wealthy campaign donors to help hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, as he sought the White House in 2008. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and as much as $1.5 million in fines.

Before his indictment, Edwards rejected a potential plea agreement with federal prosecutors that would have allowed him to serve as little as six months and keep his law license, according to two people with direct knowledge of the offer. More than a year after his wife, Elizabeth, died of cancer, Edwards is now a single parent of two children, ages 13 and 11, who live with their father at the family’s gated estate outside Chapel Hill. Eldest daughter Cate Edwards, 30, is a lawyer who married last year.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina law school, John Edwards made his fortune handling medical malpractice and corporate negligence cases before turning to politics following the death of his 16-year-old son Wade in a 1996 auto accident. Edwards was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998 and was John Kerry’s running mate in 2004. His law license has been listed as inactive for more than a decade.

For his part, Edwards has said he is looking forward to getting back in front of a jury, even though he’ll be the one at the defense table.

“After all these years, I finally get my day in court and people get to hear my side of this, and what actually happened,” Edwards said on the steps of the federal courthouse in Greensboro following a pretrial hearing in October. “And what I know with complete and absolute certainty is I didn’t violate campaign laws and I never for a second believed I was violating campaign laws.”

Regardless of the outcome, the coming trial in USA v. Johnny Reid Edwards is sure to set legal precedents for what constitutes a campaign donation under federal law.

A key issue will be whether Edwards knew about the payments made on his behalf by his national campaign finance chairman, the late Texas lawyer Fred Baron, and campaign donor Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, an heiress and socialite who is now 101 years old. Both had already given Edwards’ campaign the maximum $2,300 individual contribution allowed by federal law.

Edwards denies having known about the money, which paid for private jets, luxury hotels and Hunter’s medical care. Prosecutors will seek to prove he sought and directed the payments to cover up his affair, protect his public image as a “family man” and keep his presidential hopes viable.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors declined to comment about likely trial issues. But hundreds of pages of pre-trial motions and hours of oral arguments in recent months offer insights into their likely strategies.

Abbe Lowell, Edwards’ lead lawyer, contends that even had Edwards known about the secret payments, his actions wouldn’t amount to a crime under federal law because his motivation was keeping his wife from learning of the affair, not influencing the outcome of an election. Lowell has said in court that the government’s case relies on flawed legal reasoning, that the grand jury process was tainted and that the Republican federal prosecutor who led the investigation, now-congressional candidate George Holding, was motivated by partisanship.

Lowell has derided what he calls the government’s “crazy” interpretation of federal law whereby money that was never handled by the candidate nor deposited in a campaign account is being defined as campaign contributions.

The Federal Election Commission reviewed Edwards’ case and declined to seek charges or issue a fine. The defense is likely to call two former FEC commissioners as expert witnesses.

Edwards’ legal position is also supported in a court brief filed by the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a campaign finance watchdog group.

“In the United States, we don’t prosecute people for being loathsome, we prosecute them for violating the law,” CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said this week. “The real reason for these payments is obvious: To prevent Mr. Edwards’ cancer-stricken wife from finding out about the affair. This makes him despicable, but not a criminal.”

Much of the money at issue was funneled to Andrew Young, a former campaign aide once so close to Edwards that Andrews initially claimed paternity of his boss’s illegitimate child. Young and his wife invited the pregnant Hunter to live in their home near Chapel Hill and later embarked with her on a cross-country odyssey as they sought to elude tabloid reporters trying to expose the candidate’s extramarital affair.

Young later fell out with Edwards and wrote an unflattering tell-all book, “The Politician.” Young and Hunter recently ended a two-year legal battle over ownership of a sex tape the mistress recorded with Edwards during the campaign, agreeing to a settlement that dictates that copies of the video will be destroyed.

Young is expected to be a witness for the prosecution, while the defense is likely to call Hunter to testify. Two of the lawyers who represented Hunter in her civil suit against the former aide joined Edwards’ legal team last month. After years of adamant public denials, Edwards acknowledged paternity of Hunter’s daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, in 2010. The girl, now 4, lives with her mother in Charlotte.

It has not yet been decided whether Edwards, who was once known for his ability to charm jurors, will testify in his own defense.

But if he does take the witness stand, the case could hinge on which admitted liar the jury chooses to believe — Edwards, who appeared on national television to deny having an affair with Hunter and fathering her child, or Young, who claimed in a written statement that the baby was his.

“Juries seek the truth, and even as a (law) clerk I learned that neither silver-tongued cunning nor hapless bungling will find it for them,” Edwards wrote in “Four Trials.” ”So the best lawyer must be honest and in a way plain in answering any doubts or confusions, and you must know the facts — all of them — for otherwise the jury will lose faith in you. As it should.””

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.