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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  1. Mrs. Katz

    This is sheer and ridiculous nonsense. They are asking the jury to find Edwards guilty over something that isn't even clear is unlawful.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      Not asking for guilty, they were asked to get a unanimous vote. Could be not guilty, just everyone agree.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Li

      Agreed~leave him alone! They are basically insisting that they find him guilty without sufficient proof. He kept his personal life separate. This is harassment and destruction of a man and his well being. He still has children to support and a new born baby to care for. They came to a conclusion and now they insist on them doing him more damage?! What is wrong with this country?

      May 31, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. fedupwithla

    Yeah, like Edwards is the only one to do things like this. Someone has to be made an example of, and Edwards is the latest poster boy for Congressional house cleaning. One heckuva long way to go!

    May 31, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. max

    I don't condone what he did...not sure he deserves to go to prison...who would this help? Aren't his children punished enough already...they are the ones who will be hurt!!

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

      While I have little opinion whether or not Edwards is guilty on charges – in response to your post: don't most all children suffer when their parents go to prison?

      I am actually not one who believes in our prison system, but if we have it and hold to it, it must be the same for all – if you commit a crime that is punishable with prison time under the law; well then off you go.

      This is not about 'ones kids' or the kind of crime, or ones status. Your status in society and that you committed a 'white-collar-crime' in my opinion is no less a crime than that of the poor person robbing to sustain oneself or off-springs.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. buffalo

    This is the judge's way of saying: "Get back in there and give us the verdict WE want. Not the verdict the evidence presents". This is purely a flimsy "revenge" case to humiliate a man who has already "shot himself in the foot". He's done; let it go.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I wish I was a juror on this case! I would have voted to acquit Mr. Edwards! Compare to what GWB did to our country and the world, John Edwards should be exonerated and set free! After all, no one died as a result of his personal affairs with his mistress! Thousands of innocent Americans have died at the hands of GWB's illegitimate foreign wars and many continue to die today in Afghanistan and this evil tyrant is still roaming the country campaigning, defending and promoting his failed and reckless policies! I just pray that this good man is not punished harshly! John Edwards America loves you! Keep your head up sir!

    May 31, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • buffalo

      Well said. Edwards is a sacrificial goat staked out by his former partners in crime. Put Bush/ Cheney on trial!

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

      don't really think he is a "good man", but definitely think he is a stupid one. this dog and pony show has gone on long enough. whatever the jury finds, he's only going to get a smack on the hand anyway.
      there is no vaccine for stupid, unfortunately.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Yes, of course the jury should take your partisan political views into consideration. He should get a pass the same way President Clinton got a pass when he committed perjury in a civil rights trial.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Democrat

      Get real.

      GWB (who I am NO fan of) has NOTHING to do with this.

      Maybe no people died from this.. Just like people don't die from most crimes that people in this country are punished or put to prison for.. but, seriously, a crime is a crime. If Edwards committed a punishable crime, he needs to take the heat for it. I could not care less what party he once represented, except for the fact that I am embarrassed he was once a trusted dude of the Democrats. Now come to think about it, a few soldiers in particular might have died or die in the future because this crook make some people turn away from the Democratic party!

      I can not believe the comments on here ...

      May 31, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tommy

    Of course it's illegal, and of course it's very clear. He admitted what he did, and now he should face the consequences. He has no conscience, and he will not "suffer' otherwise. If he does not pay, this will be duplicated by any other politicians with no moral values (all of them).

    May 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kevin

    I feel really sad for Elizabeth.

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

      i think elizabeth's troubles are over, thankfully. she has gone to that place where pain and suffering are no more. what a classy lady she was. i do feel very badly for his children, though. the stigma of this will haunt them for a long time.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. eprint222

    Amazing – The judicial system works. Now someone inform the justice to take the Allen Charge and go home.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Leaning Left

    Well...should be the last rodeo for John. But he has one Adult Daughter who is going through hell... and two youger children who no longer have a mom... and a love child that daddy denied publically for 2 years. In these situations you worry about the kids and pray for them. That's all you can really do.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      And meanwhile, Cindy Sheehan and Sue Nedarer and thousands of other grieving moms and dads across the country don't have their sons and daughter around anymore to enjoy their smile and company because GWB and company murdered them in cold blood!

      May 31, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Wonder

    Yawn oh was that all going to go eat my poptart now

    May 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sftommy

    President Edward, in years to come, will look back on all this and laugh!!!!

    May 31, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Democrat

      Have you lost your marbles? I will never vote for the Republican party or anything to the right of it, but this dude Edwards, he is just sheer embarrassment and a horrible character.. Frankly his behavior is that of a pompous narcissistic sociopath. President?

      Actually, Mitt seems down-right straight-kind-of-good-guy-with-good-moral-judgement compared to Edwards.. and that says a lot about Edwards!

      May 31, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dave

    "This is sheer and ridiculous nonsense. They are asking the jury to find Edwards guilty over something that isn't even clear is unlawful."

    Gosh, Mrs. Katz, if only there were a branch of government in the US whose responsibility it was to interperet the law when its application isn't clear.

    Oh, wait . . .

    May 31, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kindasorta

    Which count? Counts 1, 2, 3 and 6 all mention Mellon. Count 1 they were instructed to decide on AFTER they had deliberated on counts 2,3,4,5 and 6. What have they been doing? They should have been sequestered,

    May 31, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kurt

    Sounds like the judge is coercing the jury, or holding them hostage until they are forced to come up with unanimous verdict on all 6 counts. Hey Judge, the jury of his peers spoke, now free them.

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

    NOT GUILTY ! as far as im concerned. Hes a slimeball..but not guilty.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
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