Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Judge refuses to dismiss charges against John Edwards

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A federal judge refused to throw out campaign corruption charges against John Edwards on Friday, meaning the former presidential hopeful will have to present his case to a jury.

Lawyers for Edwards argued before U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles that prosecutors failed to prove the 2008 candidate intentionally violated the law or that some of the alleged offenses actually occurred in the Middle District of North Carolina, the venue where he was indicted.

After two-and-a-half hours of arguments from the defense and rebuttal from the prosecution, the judge ruled quickly from the bench that the government had met its basic burden under the law. "We will let the jury decide," Eagles said.

Motions to dismiss are routine in criminal trials, but rarely granted. The decision means Edwards' defense team will begin calling its first witnesses Monday, including former Federal Election Commission chairman Scott Thomas, pollster Harrison Hickman and ex-Edwards attorney Wade Smith. Lawyers for Edwards said they have not yet determined whether he'll take the stand.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts related to campaign finance violations. He is accused of masterminding a scheme to use nearly $1 million in secret payments from two wealthy donors to help hide his pregnant mistress.

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