The jury in the North Carolina trial of Senator and former Presidential candidate, John Edwards, rendered a not guilty verdict to the count of campaign finance misconduct and were hung in a deadlock on the other four counts last week. The judge was forced to declare a mistrial on the deadlocked charges.
In post interviews in which some of the jurors participated, it was not clear that they fully understood their charge, only to say that there was not enough evidence. The mostly black woman jury seems to lend a sympathetic ear to the charges and the senator. It was obvious the defense hit pay dirt on their selection of the jurors.
A two-time presidential candidate, Edwards was accused of using close to one million dollars in funds from wealthy contributors to finance his cover up of an affair he had that resulted in an illegitimate child during his run for the White House in 2008. He was found not guilty on 3 of the 6 charges in the indictment. That hearing only pertained to whether or not Edwards acted illegally when he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from a wealthy heiress, “Bunny” Melton in order to cover up his sorted affair. There was enough evidence to sent the case to trial.
After the surprising verdict, Edwards gave an emotional speech on the steps of the courthouse, although he was completely silent during the trial. He admitted his immoral behavior and thanked his children, even shedding tears when his mentioned 4-year old Quinn, the child he had with mistress, Reille Hunter. Even with his tears, many find his emotions to be too little too late as his compassionate and loving wife stood by his side throughout the last years of her life as she battled cancer. While it was obvious she pushed through the disease often not feeling well, she was dedicated to his cause while he was carrying on the frivolous affair behind her back.
Cate, the senator’s oldest daughter now thirty years old, stood by her father’s side throughout the ordeal, much to onlooker’s dismay. She was charged by Elizabeth Edwards to care for their other two young children after their mother’s death, seeing them off to school every day. It is astonishing that she would take this stand after the death of her mother, almost seems disrespectful. It must be true that apples don’t fall far from the tree.
The senator went on to say he did not believe he did anything illegal. What would you call it then? Edwards did admit what he did was wrong, but not illegal. He verbally acknowledged responsibility for his indiscretions only after the fact when he was cleared.
The courtroom was in a confused state when the jury came out after 9 days of deliberations only to return to the chambers for more deliberations. The counts that pertained to two main wealthy contributors and the fact that there were false statements of the same were in question. One hour later the jury returned the hung verdict on those five counts.
While some professionals say that there was no smoking gun, we are talking about politicians here, and it no secret how generations of them have been known to squeak by affairs and misconduct in horrific cover-ups throughout the years, including many former US Presidents. While many scholars think he was guilty, proving the tangled web beyond a reasonable doubt was the key.
While the verdict of the trial may have cleared Edwards from his charges and while it may seem his family stands by his side, his fall from grace will haunt him for the rest of his days. There is always a consequence to one’s actions, good or bad, and there will be a pay day for John Edwards.