John Edwards Defense Relies on Definition of ‘The’

May 14, 2012

ABC News on May 14, 2012 released the following:

By JAMES HILL and BETH LOYD

“Not since Bill Clinton challenged the definition of “is” has so much hinged on a very short word.

John Edwards appears to basing much of his defense, which begins today in a North Carolina courtroom, on the legal interpretation of the word “the.”

Edwards has listened to three weeks of testimony meant to prove that he violated federal campaign finance laws by using nearly $1million in donations to hide his mistress Rielle Hunter and her pregnancy during his bid for the 2008 presidential election and in the months after he dropped out — but was still angling to be vice president or attorney general.

If convicted Edwards could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The statute governing illegal receipt of campaign contributions “means any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money… for the purpose of influencing any election for federal office.”

The words “the purpose” suggests that in order for a conviction, the sole reason for the money would have to be to finance a presidential campaign.

Edwards’ legal team has argued he did not know it might be illegal, did not intend to break the law and that his main reason for hiding Hunter was to keep her secret from his wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of breast cancer.

Prosecutors, however, are arguing the law should be interpreted to mean “a purpose,” meaning use of the donations does not have to be solely for a political campaign.

“It is sufficient under the law if you find that the gift, purchase, or payment was made for, among other purposes, the purpose of influencing any election for federal office,” prosecutors argued in court filings last week.

Edwards’ lawyer Abbe Lowell has argued that prosecutors are asking the jury to “invent a new crime” with its interpretation of the law.

Edwards’ legal team will begin its defense today, which is expected to last a week. He may have a lot to overcome. Prosecutors concluded their case last week by showing an interview Edwards gave to ABC News’ “Nightline” program in which he clearly lied several times, including denying that he had fathered Hunter’s baby.

Judge Catherine Eagles also rejected a motion by Edwards’ team to dismiss the charges against him.

The defense is expected to go after the prosecution’s key witness Andrew Young, a former Edwards’ aide who helped hide Hunter, going on the road with her to keep her away from the press, even claiming paternity for his boss.

Edwards defense has argued that much of the money was solicited by Young and he used the scandal to enrich himself.

Among Edwards’ witnesses will likely be his daughter Cate, who has been his most visible supporter throughout the trial.

Hunter is on Edwards’ list of witnesses, but it’s not clear whether she will be called. Her presence in the courtroom could be volatile.

It’s not yet known whether Edwards will take the stand in his own defense.”

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

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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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.


Picking jury in Edwards case ‘acquired art’ for prosecutors, defense

April 18, 2012

WRAL.com on April 17, 2012 released the following:

“GREENSBORO, N.C. — A federal judge on Tuesday questioned two dozen potential jurors in the trial of John Edwards while prosecutors and defense attorneys tried to gauge who would best serve their interests in determining the former presidential candidate’s guilt or innocence.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts related to secret payments from wealthy campaign donors used to hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, as he sought the White House in 2008.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles disqualified 56 of 185 potential jurors on Monday based on their responses to written questionnaires given to them last week. Most of those dismissed said they had already made up their minds in the case, while others were excused for health or personal reasons or because serving on a six-week trial would be an economic hardship.

Eagles addressed the remaining members of the jury pool in groups of 12 on Tuesday, asking them general questions about the case, such as their feelings about lawyers, politicians and people who have affairs, to determine whether they could be impartial.

Former federal prosecutor Kieran Shanahan said it’s “an acquired art” for attorneys in such cases to be able to select jurors sympathetic to their side.

“They observe the way jurors are dressed, the way they react – are they forthcoming to the judge – but they are pretty much observers in this process rather than direct participants,” Shanahan said. “These jurors are revealing little pieces about themselves – their background, their history.”

Prosecutors and defense attorneys have already spent several days combing through the questionnaires for clues to how each juror might lean in the case, he said, and they add their in-person analysis during Eagles’ questioning to that.

“If you’re the defense, you’re looking for jurors who can be sympathetic, who may say, ‘enough is enough,’ who wouldn’t necessarily walk in lock-step with the government,” he said. “If you’re the federal prosecutor, you’re looking for jurors who can follow instructions, who generally have a background of complying with the law.”

Edwards’ parents and elder daughter Cate have been accompanying him to the courthouse daily since jury selection started last week. Shanahan said the family support “sends a subliminal message” favoring the defense to prospective jurors.

“Everything that goes on in this courtroom is meant to influence or persuade in some manner,” he said.

Eagles determined 17 of the 24 jurors questioned Tuesday were qualified for the jury. The attorneys on both sides will pick the 12 jurors and four alternates next Monday before testimony begins in the trial.

Edwards’ 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, gave nearly $1 million combined for Hunter’s medical care and to pay for flights and accommodations for her during the campaign. Both had already given Edwards’ campaign the maximum $2,300 individual contribution allowed by federal law.

Edwards maintains the money for Hunter was personal gifts and not contributions to his campaign.”

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

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 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.