Via USA Today:
Former North Carolina senator John Edwards was acquitted of one count of corruption and a U.S. District Court judge declared a mistrial on five other counts after the jury deadlocked in the sensational case against a onetime rising political star — and it is unlikely he will be tried again on the charges.
As he left the courtroom Thursday in Greensboro, N.C., Edwards thanked the jurors for “their diligence” and spoke with apparent contrition.
“I want to make sure that everyone hears from me and from my voice that while I do not believe I did anything illegal or ever thought I was doing something illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that is wrong,” he said, standing next to his mother, father and oldest daughter. “And there is no one else responsible for my sins.”
The Justice Department declined to comment on the outcome and whether prosecutors would seek to retry Edwards. But a source familiar with the case who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record said another prosecution was unlikely.
Marcellus McRae, a former federal prosecutor, agreed.
“The facts aren’t going to change; the law isn’t going to change,” he said. “Why should the outcome change?”
The seven-week-long trial — which included testimony about Edwards using money and subterfuge to hide his relationship with a campaign videographer — ended with an afternoon of confusion. The jury first returned to the courtroom with a decision, prompting reporters to spill out of the courthouse and sending cable news networks into overdrive.
The jury foreman then informed the judge that the panel had reached a unanimous verdict on just one count. U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles ordered the eight men and four women back to the jury room to continue deliberations. Soon afterward, when they sent a note saying they were deadlocked, she declared a mistrial on the other five counts.
I’m not going to pretend I know enough about campaign finance law to make an informed opinion about the charges against Edwards. I do know there has been skepticism even among conservative legal experts I know or have read as to whether the DOJ’s case against Edwards was strong enough. Campaign finance law is very complex, which may have been one reason why the jurors couldn’t reach a consensus on all but one of the counts against him.
I do believe this, though: If the DOJ indeed decides not to try Edwards again, I’m fine with it – and I take second to no one in my disgust of Edwards, going back well before the affair rumors were first reported. The jurors may not have been able to decide on a verdict on five of six counts, but – as I mentioned on Twitter – the court of public opinion rightly says he’s guilty of being a lying sleezeball and that very well may be punishment enough to carry through life. Also, for all that he’s done, his family didn’t and doesn’t deserve what he’s put them through. So if the DOJ decides not to pursue another trial, more power to his family so they can begin to heal from wounds he caused.
I, for one, would not object.
- Raleigh News & Observer Photo Gallery – The Rise and Fall of John Edwards
Phineas Butts In: At the Gatestone Institute, attorney Alan Dershowitz has an interesting article about why the Edwards trial result was a good thing.