Judge Denies John Edwards' Motions to Dismiss Charges

A federal judge in the Middle District of North Carolina has denied several of John Edwards' motions to dismiss the criminal charges against him. The motions were argued yesterday and the Judge asked the parties to return this morning. Asked for a statement after the hearing, Edwards said:

"What's important now is that I now get my day in court, after all these years I finally get my day in court," Edwards said. "What I know with complete and absolute certainty is I did not violate any campaign laws."

Some of the motions, according to the Judge, need to be resolved by the Jury. She did express "uncertainty" about whether venue was appropriate for some of the charges and whether legally, John Edwards could aid and abet himself. Edwards had argued that he can't be both a principal and accessory at the same time. Attorney Abbe Lowell said: [More...]

What she did was she didn't just quite kick the can down the road," Lowell added. "She did put the can down the road, and that can has some dents in it."

The Judge also denied Edwards' motions arguing that his prosecution was politically motivated.

The portion of the yesterday's hearing on his motion to dismiss for irregularities before the grand jury was held in closed session because it involved grand jury testimony.

From his motion on the aiding and abetting issue, asserting that Edwards could not have aided and abetted his own “receipt” of an allegedly illegal contribution:

Counts 2 through 5 of the Indictment allege that Mr. Edwards "knowingly and willfully accepted contributions . . . in excess of the limits of the Election Act" from two sources, Ms. Mellon and Mr. Baron, and then repeat boilerplate language at the end of each Count alleging that Mr. Edwards "did aid and abet said offense." The aiding and abetting language is legally impossible in this context.

As the candidate alleged to have accepted illegal campaign contributions, Mr. Edwards could not have aided and abetted himself in committing the charged offense. As it cannot be clear if the grand jury agreed to a finding of probable cause based on Mr. Edwards being a principal or as an aider and abetter, this count must be dismissed.

On the issue of the U.S. Attorney George Holding's political motivation and the conduct of the AUSA before the grand jury, Team Edwards wrote in one motion (Case 1:11-cr-00161-UA Document 32 Filed 09/06/11 Page 13 of 32):

The conduct of Mr. Holding's office during grand jury proceedings also raises serious questions about the judgment and good faith of his staff. Prosecutors apparently asked witnesses before the grand jury a broad range of questions that had nothing to do with alleged campaign finance violations by Mr. Edwards.

Witnesses report that they were asked whether Mr. Edwards or his law firm had been sued for sexual harassment; whether they were surprised by the size of Mr. Edwards's home; and whether the house had a basketball court.

Details about grand jury proceedings were also repeatedly leaked to the news media by "law enforcement officials" and "those close to the investigation" in a rather transparent attempt to convict Mr. Edwards in the court of public opinion before he ever had a chance to fight the allegations against him in court.


At least 50 federal agents conducted more than 125 interviews of anyone (including interns) who had ever worked for Mr. Edwards during his political career. In many cases, federal agents showed up on the doorsteps of potential witnesses unannounced, even though the witness already had been interviewed and was represented by counsel.

On the venue and misconduct, Edwards argued (Case 1:11-cr-00161-UA Document 32 Filed 09/06/11 Page 14 of 32):

Mr. Holding investigated Mr. Edwards for almost three years, from August 11, 2008 until the Indictment was issued on June 3, 2011. For all but a few days of that period, Mr. Holding led the investigation in his home district, the Eastern District, where a grand jury was convened, hundreds of exhibits were presented and thousands of pages worth of testimony were taken. Yet, Mr. Holding and all the prosecutors he now was leading undoubtedly were aware that none of the targets of his investigation resided in the Eastern District.

So, literally, no more than a day or two before Mr. Edwards was indicted, the prosecutors convened a second grand jury in the Middle District. They then hastily presented the second grand jury with merely 40 or so out of hundreds of exhibits (few of which were germane to the charges), as well as a single summary witness who recounted the testimony allegedly offered to the first grand jury in a massive presentation of hearsay. Mr. Edwards addresses these abuses of the grand jury process in a separate motion to dismiss. (MTD No. 3.)

...The second grand jury indicted Mr. Edwards on June 3, 2011; Mr. Holding left his post as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina shortly after the Indictment; and, on July 13, 2011, Mr. Holding announced his intent to run for Congress as a Republican in North Carolina's newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.

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    I'll tell you what's outrageous. (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by NYShooter on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 03:01:40 PM EST
    Making self serving comments like, "we don't know all the facts yet, let's not jump to conclusions," when defending a personally popular position, yet jumping in with both feet, assuming facts not yet presented  when promoting a personally biased position.

    Jeralyn put out this post knowing full well "we don't know all the details" yet. But we do know enough to at least begin a discussion based on our previous knowledge, and the facts that have been publicly disseminated so far.

    And, what I personally know at this stage of the pre-trial, is what my nose is telling me: This stinks!

    But, the aroma is becoming more and more familiar. Having followed a similar persecution of one, William jefferson Clinton, and the bogus Whitewater travesty, I tend to look at these types of cases with a very jaundiced eye.

    I don't know any more facts about Edward's case than anyone else, but thanks to my exposure to Republican political prosecutors,  when the guy has flames blowing out his nostrils, and gums are gushing pints of blood, something tells me, "searching for justice" isn't his only goal.

    I love the spin, a true politician... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 03:28:00 PM EST
    First he requests that the charges be dropped. And then, after that request is denied, he tells the press that at long last he's finally getting his day in court. Masterful.

    Two very similar quotes (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Zorba on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 07:19:40 PM EST
    One attributed to Samuel Johnson:  "Sex: the expense is damnable, the position is ridiculous, and the pleasure fleeting."
    and the other to Lord Chesterfield:  "The pleasure is momentary, the position is ridiculous,
    and the expense damnable."  Chesterfield may have been ripping off Johnson, or the citations are wrong, who knows?   ;-)    

    Well... (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by lentinel on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 07:26:30 PM EST
    whether it be damnable, fleeting or ridiculous, it sure has a way of making the world go 'round.

    LOL! (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Zorba on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 07:32:38 PM EST
    The world would continue its spin without sex, lentinel, but there wouldn't be any life on it!

    Those among (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by lentinel on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 07:22:46 PM EST
    us who are not very very wealthy or very famous who commit a crime also suffer humiliation when apprehended. For some, perhaps many, having to face a disapproving mother, father, spouse, friend or sibling would be the height of humiliation.

    If humiliation is enough punishment for Edwards, it should be enough punishment for just about anybody. I don't think we can go down the road of measuring degrees of humiliation when deciding whether an alleged perpetrator is worthy of prosecution.

    I recall that when Nixon was caught with his trousers down in the Watergate mess, and forced to resign... it was suggested that criminal prosecution would be unnecessary and even cruel because he has "suffered enough" by being forced to resign his lofty position.
    To which I reply, "piffle".
    He should have been jailed.

    As I understand it, Edwards is not being prosecuted for being a cad. He's being accused of knowingly accepting illegal campaign contribution. If he did, he should go to the pokey along with any other grifter.

    Agreed but (none / 0) (#26)
    by BackFromOhio on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 12:30:50 PM EST
    only if the prosecution is conducted in accordance with the law.  Too many potential violations here -- it seems; I'm reserving jt.  

    And, if Edwards did in fact commit a crime, and the prosecutors blew it, shame on them for wasting our tax $ and engaging in possible misconduct.


    In a perfect world (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by NYShooter on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 08:05:39 PM EST
    Maybe what you stated could be realized.

    But, then again, in a perfect world there wouldn't be a need for grand juries, or any other juries for that matter.

    So, that's why we have judges.......to judge. And, thank goodness for that. Not to be simplistic, but things just aren't black or white. Judges, and juries, thankfully, must take everything into account when rendering true justice.
    Is a "life sentence" for an 85 year old, with stage 4 cancer, equivalent to a life sentence (parole in 18 years) for an 18 year old?

    I don't want computers, or simple minded ideologues, sitting in judgment.

    I prefer intelligent, open minded, warm blooded humans.

    He has behaved dishonorably (none / 0) (#1)
    by sj on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 01:59:34 PM EST
    However, this is really outrageous:
    So, literally, no more than a day or two before Mr. Edwards was indicted, the prosecutors convened a second grand jury in the Middle District. They then hastily presented the second grand jury with merely 40 or so out of hundreds of exhibits (few of which were germane to the charges), as well as a single summary witness who recounted the testimony allegedly offered to the first grand jury in a massive presentation of hearsay.

    I wonder why he's really being punished.

    Be careful (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by jbindc on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 02:24:55 PM EST
    That quote is from the defense attorneys' briefs. It may or may not be the whole and complete truth (just as if you quoted an argument from the prosecutor's briefs).  It's argument and meant to put a spin on the facts (the phrase, "So, literally" kind of gives this away). Caution should always be used when quoting an attorney's briefs and citing it as fact.

    But if they are arguing that there are "hundreds of exhibits" where only a few are germane to the charges, then why do they object to only 40 of those exhibits being used? Why is that a bad thing?

    And hearsay is allowed as testimony in grand jury proceedings. Grand jurors can use just about whatever they want in coming to a decision as to whether or not to indict. (FYI - It's allowed at trial too, if it fits into one of the exceptions).

    I have no idea of whether John Edwards is guilty or not, and neither does anyone else (exceot Jihn Edwards), as we have not heard all the facts and seen all the evidence. So, I'm not sure what you find completely outrageous...?


    lawyers do not put false (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 02:34:42 PM EST
    statements in briefs. They can be sanctioned. Abbe Lowell is one of the most highly regarded attorneys in the country and a former AUSA. And please don't state your legal opinion as fact. Did you read the prosecutor's reply to see if they contest his version of the facts?

    Defense lawyers do not put false statements (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by scribe on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 03:21:25 PM EST
    in briefs.  They'll get hammered no enf if they do.

    Government prosecutors, OTOH, can operate under a set of rules which allow them to lie to the court.

    But, more to the point, a reasonable prosecutor does not "Waste" a grand jury's time with exhibits superfluous to the case he's thinking of charging.  If as a prosecutor you put 400 exhibits in front of a grand jury, you put them there for a reason - because you think they will get you the indictment you want.  Speaking as someone who actually sat as a grand juror, the grand jurors come to almost every single case cold.  They may only know of the existence of the case in the event it's a highly publicized thing, and grand jurors are regularly cautioned (at least at the beginning of their service) to base their decisions only on what goes on in the grand jury room.  But, coming to cases cold, you as a grand juror have to have everything explained to you.  Time after time, prosecutors' witnesses will have to repeat, recapitulate, or explain their testimony because it can be very confusing.  Putting a mass of documents before the GJ without a coherent narrative explaining where each one fits in is an invitation to confuse the GJ and either (A) get a no bill or (B) get a defense motion to dismiss granted.

    Similarly, if you've had a parade of witnesses come before the GJ over a period of months, and then go to an entirely different set of jurors with one summary witness saying "it's in the old testimony, somewhere", you guarantee that they jurors have no idea what happened and are acting merely as a chorus (and not even a Greek chorus, who at least have the benefit of having seen the whole play unfold) to whatever it is the prosecutor is seeking to charge.

    I would go so far as to bet that the jurors in Edwards' case did not have the charges/statutes explained to them before they were asked to vote on them.  I know my first day, the prosecutor came in wanting to indict some guy on some charge and, after the witness testified, asked us if we were ready to vote because, in so many words, we knew what the crime he wanted to charge was.  He had never given us the courtesy of reading the statute or explaining the charge before the testimony (where we would have been able to use it to listen critically to the testimony) or asking if we were ready to vote.

    I remain convinced this is a political vendetta by the Obama DoJ to keep Edwards (or anyone like him) from getting into the race.  Does anyone doubt that, today, if someone with a populist message like Edwards presented and without the baggage were to sign up for the Democratic primary, Obama would have a real challenge on his hands?

    And I think the former prosecutor and now-candidate Rethuglican used the GJ as an instrument of intimidation against everyone he hauled in.  I have little doubt that a spare copy of that transcript is lurking somewhere in an opp-research file.  It happens.


    Donald, seriously (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by sj on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 05:23:28 PM EST
    Those are things aren't mutually exclusive.  These legal problems are seriously adding to the baggage.  And who is to say that he might not have the public personal level baggage without a little assist to the National Enquirer.

    And I expect you know very well that the thought that the level of scrutiny that Edwards is now receiving would be aimed at Self will give any but the most saintly pause.

    And this is, frankly, ridiculous

    And with regards to "or anyone like him," seriously, how does one conduct a vendetta to scare off a heretofore unannounced and unidentified challenger for the 2012 nomination?

    To see how one "conducts a vendetta..." to prevent future behavior just review the treatment whistleblowers have gotten the last few years.

    And for what it's worth, I think Obama has shown himself capable of being very petty.  And if his tin ear/retention of geithner isn't an indication that he can indeed be stupid, I don't know what will satisfy you.  Even the most brilliant are stupid occasionally.  

    I think your bitterness at your prior support of Edwards' candidacy has given you quite a large blind spot.  I was also a deeply disappointed Edwards supporter.  I understand the level of betrayal.  But he is still a multi-dimensional being.  He is not defined only by his sins against his family.

    And don't re-spout that business about "his own personal conduct" to me.  Of course he damaged himself.  But most everyone has some personal conduct that -- if made public -- could be used (or spun) to create a public disgrace or at least embarrassment.

    So, with all of that in mind, I still wonder why Edwards is being punished.


    Bosh...the "vendetta" (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by christinep on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 08:44:41 PM EST
    of which we speak here clearly belongs only to the writer suspecting one.  Whatever else is guessed at, Edwards became worse than toast, politically, some time back because of his behavior. Most people realize that; it is not a matter of whatever machinations engaged in by this particular penny-ante prosecutor.  

    "vendetta" was his word (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by sj on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 12:01:59 AM EST
    not mine.  Donald wondered how a "vendetta" could be conducted against future behavior.  Again I say, look to how whistleblowers have been punished and not protected.  He invited conjecture and I gave it to him.  I invite you to read what I actually wrote.  And what I was responding to.  And not change the subject to what you wish I was saying.

    And penny ante.  Really.


    I stand corrected. (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by christinep on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 02:42:11 PM EST
    Myself got carried away in response to the general tenor of several comments which I read as an attempt to cleanse the image of what Edwards appeared to become.

    This is reminiscent (none / 0) (#21)
    by Towanda on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 07:50:53 PM EST
    of several cases that come to mind of ye olde Chicago Waye.

    Vehemently disagree w/your first paragraph. (none / 0) (#31)
    by oculus on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 03:10:02 PM EST
    I submit (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by sj on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 02:45:01 PM EST
    That you, too, should be careful as you are also making a lot of assumptions.  You are assuming that those 40 exhibits were the only exhibits germane to the endictment.  I am assuming that they used those 40 exhibits as a "short hand" so that they didn't have to do the heavy lifting that they'd done before in the wrong district.  Or, (either alternatively or additionally) there is an intent to suppress exhibits that contradict the desired narrative.  We don't know for sure who is right -- if either of us are -- or wrong.  

    But what I find outrageous is that it is apparent to me that the second grand jury was intentionally convened as a rubber stamp.  Not as working group.  They didn't do their work correctly so they gave themselves a shortcut.  Somehow so many prosecutors seem to feel that they don't have to live with their mistakes.  Other people should.


    What I had always heard is that, (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Anne on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 03:05:09 PM EST
    quite often, getting an indictment is so easy that a ham sandwich could find itself being charged by a grand jury.

    I agree that the whole thing smells bad, clearly the US Attorney had ambitions for higher office, and seemed to have Democrats in his cross-hairs; I get the feeling he was looking for headlines and campaign cash, not justice.


    I really wish attorneys never ever (none / 0) (#8)
    by oculus on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 03:22:43 PM EST
    Put false "facts in their pleadings. Unfortunately, some do.

    "I am shocked, shocked I tell you..." (5.00 / 0) (#20)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 07:37:14 PM EST
    comment with (none / 0) (#30)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 11:00:00 PM EST
    personal attack, insults and name-calling of John Edwards deleted. Donald, please re-read our comment rules. This isn't the first time I've had to delete one of your comments for these reasons.