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. Jay

    The verdict is in: Slimy.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. hillcrester

    The irresponsible non-journalism practiced by Faux News and its on-line component has pushed CNN to become little more than a tabloid. Eyeballs uber alles!

    May 31, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Let me guess, you're okay with MSNBC and Huffpo though....you're a part of the problem.

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

    What a shocker. Another politician gets away with corruption charges that would send anyone else (who isn't rich or a politician) to jail for at least a decade. Welcome to America where justice is always for sale.
    He probably paid off the jurors and banged the one the was "flirting" with him a few days ago. Yeah, this guy is a real class act.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lee

      ... as are you.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. American_Fury

    Try paying attention a little more closely when reading an article.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jb

    There once was a man named John
    Who humped a throw away blonde
    He tried to hide stains
    that would ruin his name
    And now his career is long gone

    May 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. KimH

    So, if Bunny's money was a "gift", did she file her 709 forms with the IRS???

    May 31, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Good question, but gift tax is paid by the giver, not the receiver. Did the donors file gift tax returns?

      May 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. erik

    Clinton should be on the firing squad.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Honorable Mrs. Graham

    Morons. Too bad they cannot get jurors who are not influenced by factors such as dramatics, flirtations and politics.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. rick

    I agree with a previous comment -the whole trial a waste of tax dollars. So many more important things for us to focus on.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Rooting out corruption in government and sending a loud signal to elected officials that they must obey the law too is well worth the money.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. riamb60

    1 count out of six ?? He will go on probation and house arrest

    May 31, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. asd

    "Vice" presidential nominee

    May 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • John John

      in 2004

      May 31, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. marvalea

    Ironic, is it not, that PEOPLE cannot contributed unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns but CORPORATIONS and SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS can not only contribute unlimited amounts, but do so without disclosure!

    May 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jenny

    unamimous count on funny bunny money.....not guilty, money was gifted to hide hunter problem, not for campaign.....2 hours for allen charge then mistrial

    May 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jules432

    CNN: BREAKING NEWS! ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! DROP WHAT YOU'RE DOING RIGHT NOW! ALERT!
    Us: "What is it, CNN?!"
    CNN: *shuffles feet* "Ooooh, nothing. But now that you're here... why don't you check out this video of a man eating another man's face..."

    May 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just Me

      Good one!!!

      May 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. rs1201

    he doesn't belong in jail. he's just an unethical, immoral, horrible husband and father...but he's not a criminal. He's just a worthless human being who will have to live with his past and if he has an iota of decency in him...he'll be miserable for the rest of his life.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Safe in Texas

      People like him rarely do. He has no conscientious and he wouldn't have done the things that he did to his wife and family, much less himself.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • fedupwithla

      He's not alone when it comes to his Congressional peers. He is just the flavor of the moment. They have to find someone, and he looks innocent enough to screw. Well, onward Washington. Who's next?

      May 31, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debby

      The only way he will be miseralbe is in jail. After a year he will move on to a next victim.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allen Towne

      Actually, he does belong in jail if it's found he used funds illegally. He's not on trial for having an affair, but for using campaign funds to cover it up.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • jrc

      just like some of the other politicians who just never got caught or exposed but continue to live as great politicians with high moral standards.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kahuna

      I agree with you 100%. He is should not go to jail, he is the one that has to look at himielf everyday in the mirrior and I believe in karma

      May 31, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
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