Defense Cross-Examines Andrew Young

John Edwards' lead defense attorney, Abbe Lowell, will get his chance to rip apart Andrew Young right after lunch.

The question: Will Young be annihilated on cross-examination or will the jurors be left with the impression that while he's an opportunistic Brutus, he is worthy of belief? [More...]

Team Edwards undoubtedly has a copy of every media interview Andrew Young and his wife Cheri ever provided, and every article in which they are quoted, as well as Young's book, which by now they must have underlined in a hundred or more places. Before the lunch recess today, the Judge asked Abbe Lowell when he expected to finish cross-examining Young. Lowell replied, "Next week." (Apparently a joke.)

Young testified today that his wife, Cheri Young, handled the family's finances. She's also going to be a witness and has given numerous interviews. While the Youngs may tell the same story, one of them may unwittingly contradict the other, in which case the jury may have further reason to doubt their credibility.

Rielle Hunter backs up Edwards in saying it was Young's idea to claim paternity of her and Edwards' child. Young and Cheri insist it was Edwards' idea. I can't begin to imagine how the jury will determine who is more credible, Rielle or Andrew and Cheri. What a choice.

For a trial that is supposed to be about whether Mellon's and Baron's donations were campaign contributions that had to be reported, and whether John Edwards knew this, so far it's been far more about whether Edwards' is a cad.

Regardless of what the jury thinks of John Edwards and Andrew Young by the end of this trial, the core issue for them is whether the funds provided by Fred Baron and Bunny Mellon were campaign contributions, as defined by an ambiguous federal law. If the funds were not contributions, Team Edwards argues, then there is no crime and there cannot be a criminal conspiracy, whether Edwards knew how the funds were ultimately used or not.

The Judge has not definitively ruled on whether she will allow Edwards to present expert testimony on the law applicable to campaign contributions. If she allows it, it's hard to see how a jury finds guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

While Andrew Young has the potential to torpedo the Government's case if he's decimated on cross-examination, I don't think the reverse is true. Should Young survive cross-examination, having been bruised and battered but not down for the count, John Edwards still has strong defenses based on federal election law.

And Young's credibility test for the jury doesn't end with his testimony. Lowell knows what the other witnesses will say. He will try to get answers from Young that conflict with what he knows these other witnesses will testify to. So Young's credibility may take additional hits long after he's left the stand.

Interesting sidenote: The Times' choice of photo for the article linked above depicts FBI Agent Charles Stuber talking to Andrew Young yesterday. Agent Stuber is on the Government's witness list. Maybe they were just talking about the weather?

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  • Display: Sort:
    I thought I read (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Zorba on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 02:18:37 PM EST
    somewhere that Bunny Mellon said it was a gift, and indeed paid the appropriate gift tax on it.  If she paid a gift tax, how can it be a political contribution???  A gift is a gift, and Edwards can do whatever the he!! he wants with it.

    yes, that is the part I don't understand (none / 0) (#5)
    by ruffian on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 02:25:17 PM EST
    but I have not been following very closely. Do they have some evidence of them conspiring to fake a gift and lie about it being a gift?

    How can you (none / 0) (#6)
    by Zorba on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 02:34:19 PM EST
    "fake a gift" if you pay the legally-required gift tax on it?  I would think that would make it, indeed, a gift.

    Seems quite unusual for a court to (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 01:37:36 PM EST
    permit an expert on law--the bailiwick of the judge.  

    an attorney (none / 0) (#2)
    by NYShooter on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 01:44:12 PM EST
    who is an expert at cross examination is like watching Nureyev dance.

    And, if you're the one in the witness box, you'll never go through anything more frightening. You go in a swaggering tough guy; you come out calling for your Mommy.

    who is an expert (none / 0) (#4)
    by csmith125 on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 02:25:02 PM EST
    "who is an expert at cross examination is like watching Nureyev dance."