John Edwards not guilty of illegal campaign contributions; mistrial on other charges
May 31st, 2012
04:25 PM ET

John Edwards not guilty of illegal campaign contributions; mistrial on other charges

[Updated at 4:31 p.m. ET] The judge in the John Edwards trial has declared a mistrial on all counts except for the one on which the jury found the former presidential candidate not guilty, CNN producers in the courtroom said Thursday.

The jury has been dismissed by the judge.

CNN Producer Ted Metzger said that the decision came after the jury sent a note saying they had exhausted all options. All of the lawyers read over the note, as did Edwards, who did not react.

When the judge read the final verdict and declared a mistrial on other charges, Edwards had an expression of relief but also pain that the trial might have to go on again, Metzger said.

[Updated at 4:24 p.m. ET] The jury in the John Edwards trial has found the former presidential candidate not guilty on count three of accepting illegal campaign contributions from heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon in 2008.

The jury said it was deadlocked on the other charges.

That was the sole count the jury had earlier that they had reached a unanimous verdict on. The jury was still deadlocked on the other charges.

The Justice Department will now have to decide whether to try him again on the other charges.

[Updated at 3:08 p.m. ET] The judge in former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards' federal corruption trial has ordered jurors to continue deliberations after they announced they had reached a verdict on only one of six counts.

The judge will soon issue an "Allen charge," which is essentially a request from the court for the jury to go back into deliberations and try again to reach a unanimous verdict on all counts.

[Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET] The prosecution has asked for the jury to go back in the jury room to deliberate. The defense has asked for a mistrial on the remaining counts.

The judge is taking a five minute recess on the matter. The judge has the option to issue an "Allen charge," which is essentially a request from the court for the jury to go back into deliberations and try again to reach a unanimous verdict on all counts.

What are the charges against John Edwards?

[Posted at 2:53 p.m. ET] The jury in the John Edwards trial has only reached a unanimous decision on one charge against John Edwards.

The group of jurors said that as of this moment they could only agree on the charge of illegal campaign contributions from Rachel "Bunny" Mellon. We do not know which way the jury decided on that count.

Edwards, a former Democratic U.S. senator and presidential candidate, was charged with accepting illegal campaign contributions, falsifying documents and conspiring to receive and conceal the contributions. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.

Everything you need to know about John Edwards

Jurors last week asked to review all the exhibits, indicating they were in it for the long haul.

Prosecutors said Edwards "knowingly and willingly" accepted almost $1 million from two wealthy donors to hide former mistress Rielle Hunter and her pregnancy, then concealed the donations by filing false and misleading campaign disclosure reports.

Defense attorneys argued that Edwards was guilty of nothing but being a bad husband to his wife, Elizabeth, who died in 2010. They also argued that former Edwards aide Andrew Young used the money for his own gain and to pay for Hunter's medical expenses to hide the affair from Edwards' wife.

Neither Edwards nor Hunter testified during the trial. The affair occurred as Edwards was gearing up for a second White House bid in 2008, and he knew his political ambitions depended on keeping his affair with Hunter a secret, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon told jurors in closing arguments.

Prosecutors argued that Edwards knowingly violated campaign finance laws by accepting the large contributions from Rachel Mellon and Fred Baron that went to support Hunter. Edwards "knew these rules well," Higdon said, and should have known that the contributions violated campaign finance laws.

Edwards accepted $725,000 from Mellon and more than $200,000 from Baron, prosecutors said. The money was used to pay for Hunter's living and medical expenses, travel and other costs to keep her out of sight while Edwards made his White House run, prosecutors say.

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soundoff (223 Responses)
  1. BB Blinker

    If you or I were on trial with these charges and with all this evidence against us, we would have already been sentenced and doing time by now. Our justice system has consistently validated that those who have the best lawyers will generally always win. I wish it could be different and more fair, but . . there you have it.

    May 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Jason

    Edwards was a successful trial lawyer, and former senator, and former presidential candidate, and rich. The cards were stacked heavily in his favor.

    May 31, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Dave

    Guilty or not guilty in court we know the bottom line. Edwards, following in a long lne of liberal democrat slime cheated on his dying wife. One of the MANY advantages of NOT be an atheist is that I believe a day will come that Edwards will answer for what he done.

    May 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. von kirk

    Perhaps the Federal Govertment should go after things like Wellfare fraud instead of fLance Armstrong and John Edwards.Look like better use of tax payers dollars

    May 31, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Richard in Texas

    Fox news must be having a fit. They were treating this as the trial of the century.

    May 31, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • korkea aika

      hey richard, that's what you get for watching fox and living in texas. Everything gets distorted and the sky is falling in, everyday. Good luck

      May 31, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • zombieman

      No retrial...

      They should have just given him a big fine and washed their hands of it. Now he's going to walk free. If they decide to charge him again.. they are complete tards.

      June 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    It's best, not to be a news organization with a wish. You may wind up getting "rear ended".

    May 31, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. ♚Mmmmm♛

    oops, the lawd has have mercy on edwards...seeing a political comeback withtah vengence...

    May 31, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Frank

    People of the United States of America,
    Well apparently in the North Carolina Judicial System 2+2=0,if it walks like a duck,quacks like a duck,looks lite a duck it's a Elephant.What a bunch of stupid, moronic ,dumb bunch of mouth breathers these jurors must have been.The Political Judicial system in this country is more corrupt than Russia and China combined.To believe Edwards was SGT Shultz I know nothing,nothing! is beyond belief.Some needs to explain if the money was just a gift(1 million dollars +) were TAXES paid on that cash given to Ms Hunter!The OWS crowd may have a point and this case is a perfect example of American Greed and Corruption.The Breck Girl now gets off scott free!I will bet those jurors were made promises by Edwards operatives to be taken care of way down the road when this is all a distant memory.This is classic corruption at it's absolute best!

    May 31, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jenny L.

      you right. money can buy anything. got away with. Shame on the system.
      .

      May 31, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • MNTaxpayer

      They listened to the evidence and they came to their own conclusions. I doubt that you know more about the case then they do, so if you don't mind, calm down and shut up.

      June 1, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. HIDE BEHIND

    I will say as far as choice of women Edwards was far above another political slimeball,Clinton.
    Edwards forgot that when you run for national public office you better be damn sure you know more dirt on your oponents than they do on you.
    His case is just one more example of the real politics of nation and the ones who live to be a part of it.

    June 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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    June 2, 2012 at 3:28 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. WOW

    ?

    June 3, 2012 at 12:13 am | Report abuse | Reply
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