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. chilly g

    I don't like john edwards because of how he treated his wife but i hope he not guilty.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • leelanau

      How about....."If's he's guilty, I hope that they convict him"???

      May 31, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. don from AL

    Must be following the courtroom format:
    Members of the jury...have you reached a verdict?
    We have.
    CNN article.
    And what is that verdict?
    Another CNN article.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. clark

    SHUT UP !!!!!!

    May 31, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. WAIST OF TIME.

    WAIST OF TIME. WAIT FOR THE RESULT OF THE VERDIT – CNN

    May 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted

      Waste, perhaps?

      May 31, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. comingsoon

    you shed light on the have-mores and the have-nothings, your goose is cooked.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jenny

    wait, north carolina news affiliate is reporting the jury has reached a verdict to ONE COUNT ONLY, and the judge has asked them to to continue to dilberate on the REMAINING 5 counts....????? who announces just one count???? what is going on?

    May 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tantamount

    What's the deal w/ the huge yellow "ALERT" ribbon at the bottom of CNN's screen?

    I turned on the TV and thought there was a friggin nuclear war. "breaking news" would be more appropriate

    May 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Autumn

    This whole thing is baloney. Realistically, I am not sure Edwards is any different from any other politician. If he goes to jail, I have a feeling that half of Congress belongs in jail too.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJ11

      That'd be a decent start.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • howard

      what only half i was thinking all or atleast 98%

      May 31, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. eb

    good for you, now smell it

    May 31, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JJ11

    Not guilty by reason of wealth.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Saint_John

    So what was the freaking verdict? Jesus!

    May 31, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Steve

    Only the government gets to say, NO you didn't intend it that way. You didn't think that, with the authority to jail you!

    May 31, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. garc

    Are juries SELECTED on the basis of high-degree mental illness these days? Matching outfits, and now this?

    May 31, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portia

      This is crazy...a total waste of taxpayer monies from start to finish...these jurors should be jailed themselves...ever since the OJ trial, we have people who want to get famous by being on a jury...our country is doomed

      May 31, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dan586

    Difference between republicans and democrats lying is; With democrats you will get individuals that lie. While republicans its organized and plan so everyone has the same lie.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cobra129

    Really, Edwards going to jail? Probably ain't gonna happen. All they need to do is find him guilty of one feloney so he loses his law license for the rest of his miserable life. Should be good enough to rid the country of another filthy lawyer.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • midogs2

      You voiced what I was thinking, Cobra. I totally agree with your logic.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
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