John Edwards Trial: Defense Rests

John Edwards concluded his defense today. Neither he, his daughter Cate nor Rielle Hunter testified.

The Government apparently did not call rebuttal witnesses. Jury instructions will be argued this afternoon and closing arguments will be tomorrow. The jury will likely begin deliberating Friday.

I think Edwards absolutely made the right decision. He has no burden to prove anything. Had he testified, the Government would have hammered him with his previous lies, over and over. Was he lying then or is he lying now? If he testified and was convicted, the Government would have been able to seek an increase in his sentencing guidelines for obstruction, claiming he testified falsely. He had little to gain and a lot to lose. [More...]

John Edwards does not have to prove anything. The burden of proof lies entirely with the Government. As hamstrung as the defense was by the Judge's restrictions on its witnesses, it still was able to bring out that Andrew Young had a motive to testify falsely and raise some doubt about whether the funds were campaign contributions and his intent.

The Judge did not let Edwards play the FEC hearing tape. The Government last night filed an objection to its request, stating it didn't mean what the defense said it meant, and provided the transcript. They argued this morning and the Judge refused to allow Edwards to introduce it.

Some stipulations were reached regarding Andrew Young's use of the money, Rielle Hunter's conception date and Andrew Young's possession of the sex tape. The latter stipulation was that Young had the tape in his possession and wanted to sell it but did not.

The most critical factor now is how the Judge instructs the jury.

Update on stipulations: The AP reports:

Jurors were also read a stipulation about a sex tape the Youngs had, purportedly showing Edwards and a pregnant Hunter. Jurors were told Andrew Young considered selling the tape, and during his last personal encounter with Edwards on a rural North Carolina road, he told Edwards he had the tape.
There was also a stipulation on when Rielle Hunter conceived.
[Jurors] got a detailed report Wednesday about Hunterís medical history. Her child, Frances Quinn, was most likely conceived between May 25 and 28, 2007, according to a doctorís analysis read to the jury by Lowell. She learned of her pregnancy during a July 3, 2007, doctorís visit, and there is no indication she previously used a home pregnancy test, Lowell said.

Hunter filed an affidavit in the state civil case saying the sex video was made in 2006 and she was not pregnant. Her other affidavit on the tape is here. The tape came up at trial during testimony of Tim Toben. Andrew Young filed this description of the tape in state court. The jury isn't getting all these details. Initially, Abbe Lowell wanted to recall Andrew Young to question him about whether he stole the tape from Rielle rather than, as he claimed, found it in abandoned trash at his house. A stipulation is a substitute for testimony, agreed to by both sides. I'm not sure what the purpose of the pregnancy/sex tape stipulation is. Hopefully someone else can explain it. The AP also reports:

However, in 14 days of testimony, no witness ever said Edwards knew he was violating campaign finance laws, a key element of criminal intent the government must prove to win a conviction.
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    I think maybe (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by sj on Wed May 16, 2012 at 01:23:45 PM EST
    Edwards should be very afraid.
    The most critical factor now is how the Judge instructs the jury.

    But at least there this:
    George Holding, the former U.S. attorney who launched the investigation, began a campaign of his own just a month after Edwards was indicted, seeking a U.S. congressional seat in a newly carved district favorable to Republican candidates. He won the Republican primary this past week.

    I have written often (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by NYShooter on Wed May 16, 2012 at 06:38:20 PM EST
    that, due to the enormous, incredible power that cops, prosecutors, judges, politicians, and other similar officials are granted by the people that, were they to commit a crime, whatever punishment a lay person receives for said offense, the Official's should be doubled, tripled, or something.

    This case (prosecutor & judge) would be poster "boys" for my feelings.


    For details (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Wed May 16, 2012 at 01:47:25 PM EST
    see here and here.

    O.k. let's make it a "three-fer" (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by NYShooter on Wed May 16, 2012 at 11:57:35 PM EST
    I also used to have the knee jerk assumption that lay jurors were prejudiced, emotional, and unlearned folks. And, I'm sure, some are, But, now I believe they're the minority, not the majority.

    What changed was when I became involved, up close and personal, in several trials.....both as plaintiff and defendant.

    I could see, and feel, a transformation in these folks when the solemn activities of a courtroom begin playing themselves out. They seem to begin feeling that they're part of a bigger, important,  enterprise and leave the freedom an individual blogger typing at home has.

    When they put their hand on the bible, or simply raise their right hand, swearing to tell the truth.......my faith begins to be restored.

    The old saying, "walk a mile in my shoes," is the feeling these jurors seem to be emitting once the idea that a fellow human being's life is their hands.

    If he confessed on the stand... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed May 16, 2012 at 11:50:35 AM EST

    ...then I would vote to acquit.

    I do not understand (none / 0) (#2)
    by desmoinesdem on Wed May 16, 2012 at 12:42:29 PM EST
    on what grounds the FEC hearing tape was excluded as evidence.

    Why not let the government tell the jury that the tape "didn't mean what the defense said it meant" and let the jury decide whose interpretation of the tape makes the most sense?

    Because if the jury hears that the FEC said the (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Angel on Wed May 16, 2012 at 12:48:59 PM EST
    funds were not campaign contributions...well, game over, and Edwards wins.  The government, with the help of the judge, is railroading John Edwards, for what reasons I don't know.  

    two thoughts: (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by NYShooter on Wed May 16, 2012 at 06:31:15 PM EST
    1. We have judges presumably to exercise "judgment." Otherwise, why not use a computer?

    2. 56 federal Agents!....3 years! Speaks for itself.

    Our tax dollars (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Zorba on Wed May 16, 2012 at 06:37:33 PM EST
    at work.   :-(

    Not impartial juries. (none / 0) (#9)
    by Doug1111 on Wed May 16, 2012 at 07:40:38 PM EST
    I haven't followed this case closely, but rather intermediately, about entirely through this blog.

    It seems to me the prosecution has a very weak logical case.  They have a strong demonization of Edwards case.  Juries are are far too emotional and frankly unintelligent.  So it's a net net toss up I'd guess, but shouldn't be, with a smart and impartial jury.  Which rarely happens.

    Jurors (none / 0) (#10)
    by jbindc on Wed May 16, 2012 at 08:48:13 PM EST
    Tend to take their jobs pretty seriously, and are made up of all kinds of people, so to classify them as unintelligent is not fair.  The juries you should worry about are ones where some of them go in with jury nullification on their mind - those jurors do not take the job seriously.  I think that's pretty rare, so give these people some credit.

    Yep, (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by bmaz on Wed May 16, 2012 at 09:27:26 PM EST
    I have to say, that while there are certainly bad juries here and there, by and large I think they do a LOT better job than people commonly give them credit for.

    Good thing I didn't put. Money on Edwards taking (none / 0) (#13)
    by oculus on Thu May 17, 2012 at 12:52:57 AM EST
    thetaking the stand.