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. svann


    May 31, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John Hausken

    It sounds like the jury doesn't know enough about the case so they can only agree on the human aspect of it ie, Edwards cheating, and anything related to that. I don't think the jury is educated enough to rule on the other counts.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • smb04d

      I don't think any normal American knows what goes into campaigning and how funds are raised. How do campaigns make money? It doesn't just magically appear...a campaigner hires a fund raiser to basically beg for money. What Edwards did with that money is of real concern...not that he cheated on his wife.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jeff

    if they have not agreed in 12-13 days, 5 minutes wont make a difference

    May 31, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. buspilot

    Gotta be not guilty on the bunny money that they agreed on. Why shouldn't a rich old lady be able to give him money is she wants to? Besides his sleaseball assistant (and prosecution witness) stole almost all of that money. I think even the hard-nosed jurors would agree that the only felony with the bunny money was done by his assistant. The other charges are more nebulouos and the jury isn't likely to agree on them. The prosecution should never have brought this case.

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

      Sounds like you have all the facts, evidence and clearly know what happened. Why are they even going thru this? You should come forward with your case and save everyone a lot of trouble. Damn you're good.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • tarlcabot

      Well there site headline was a double-negative...

      Edwards guilty on 1 count; mistrial declared on 5 others

      May 31, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • max3333444555

      isnt he supposed to pay taxes on a "gift" that size?

      May 31, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jo Hargis

      Couldn't agree more. Being a sleazeball isn't a crime. The rest of this was a bunch of bogus hooey and a complete waste of taxpayer money. Glad it's over and let him get back to his small children, for their sake. They've been through plenty enough already.

      May 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      well Mole, it looks like buspilot did indeed call it correctly with regards to the charge.

      May 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mole

    Any time one of these two-faced politicians are caught in the middle of their shenanigans, I'm reminded of a saying my Grandfather use to say....."for every foul-ball caught, ten more make it over the fence."

    Trust is earned. I don't trust politicians. They've given me no reason to.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Anthony Quatroni

    Whole court system is a joke in this country and no better elsewhere.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Ok Anthony, please tell us, in all your wisdom, what a good alternative is.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rod in Texas

    Our sentencing structure is so screwed up. You can drive drunk and kill someone and get 10 years in prison but taking campaign money will get you 30 years. It amazes me.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • andyoo

      because when you drunk drive, you affect only one or a few person.
      when you accept illegal money, you could be affecting the whole country.
      You want someone to be able to buy power? not that it's not already the case...just not as open.

      May 31, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • aces2jokers

      Hey Rod there was a total of 6 charges brought up against him which totaled 30 years. I'm pretty sure drunk driving which is a singular charge has a more severe punishment than any of those 6 seperately

      May 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jady

    whatever... he's a money hungry dirtbag. Put him away

    May 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hitman

    She has to be an honest conservative judge!

    May 31, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bob

    OK, CNN – time to nix the "BREAKING NEWS" – theres nothing more to see here....

    May 31, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Edi thomas

    The government should have to reveal to all what it cost taxpayers to pursue this case and who should take responsibility for that decision. The government lawyers wanted blood and a lenghty sentence thats why there was no plea agreement and instead a long and costly trial at taxpayer expense. Stop the bleeding declare mistrial and and send the jurors and lawyers home.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jerre Jones

    Of course he's guilty. It was sickening the way he and one of the alternative jurors were making eyes at each other. Justice must be served. He even admitted to lying during a television interview and that has been proven time after time. The jury needs to continue until they come to a unanimous decision on all ot the counts against him. Do your job! I feel very bad for his deceased wife and their children. He's such a poor example.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    The only thing Mr. Edwards should be charged with is for showing up late for court! GWB should be in prison with Charles Taylor! Our different strokes for different folkes judicial system is ludicrous!

    May 31, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve Wilson

      Let me get this right. John Edwards, the Democratic VP candidate, is cheating on his wife while she is dying of cancer. He has a love child with this woman. He cons an old woman out of big money and funnels it to his girlfriend. Meanwhile, you give this guy a free ride and are still complaining about Bush. Really?

      I'll bet the people in your life just roll their eyes every time you open your mouth and start making foolish speeches.

      May 31, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bezerkur

    I find it funny that some think Edwards is going to a prison. Where he is going will basically be a lock up resort. Why post this before the verdict CNN?

    May 31, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rob in FL

    Justice has been served.

    May 31, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
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