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May 24, 2012

Any thoughts on what jurors have been discussing for 25 hours in Edwards case?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by the latest dispatch from reporters in North Carolina who continue to wait for the jury in the Edwards federal criminal case to return a verdict.  Here are snippets from this new ABC News report:

After nearly a week of deliberations jurors in the John Edwards trial have yet to reach a verdict, methodically working their way through six criminal charges and a month's worth of testimony about how the former presidential candidate allegedly used campaign donations to cover up a torrid illicit affair.

Jurors today requested exhibits concerning counts 4 and 5 of the indictment, both of which deal with funds from millionaire political donor Fred Baron that were used to help hide Edwards' mistress Rielle Hunter.

Among the evidence jurors are reviewing is a note Baron wrote to Edwards' aide Andrew Young, accompanying an envelope full of cash. "Old Chinese saying: Use cash, not credit cards," read the note, which Baron wrote in December 2007, weeks before the Iowa caucuses. The cash was sent to a Florida hotel, where Young was staying with Hunter to keep her out of view from an increasingly inquisitive press corp....

Jurors also requested Young's bank statement, in which he had received a $20,000 deposit from Baron and another $725,000 from another wealthy Edwards supporter, millionaire heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon....

After doling out exhibits piecemeal as the jury requested them, Federal Judge Catherine Eagles today gave the jury all the evidence in the case, a move that could help speed deliberations.

The jury has spent more than 25 hours deliberating since it was charged last Friday. They have taken breaks only for lunch. Edwards was spotted earlier this week, pacing around a second-floor room of the courthouse, occasionally peering at the press gathered outside....

If convicted Edwards can face up to 30 years in prison and be fined more than $1 million, although it is unlikely he will face the most severe penalties.

Especially in white-collar cases of this nature, I tend to assume that a lengthy period of jury deliberation suggests lots of mixed opinions.  And mixed juror opinions, in turn, suggests a higher likelihood of a split verdict (which would, in my self-serving view, make a subsequent Edwards federal sentencing proceeding even more interesting).  But, not having followed the actual trial here all that closely, maybe there just is lots and lots of stuff for the Edwards jury to discuss in order to sort out all six counts.

May 24, 2012 at 03:58 PM | Permalink

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"Especially in white-collar cases of this nature, I tend to assume that a lengthy period of jury deliberation suggests lots of mixed opinions. And mixed juror opinions, in turn, suggests a higher likelihood of a split verdict..."

Bingo.

The jury is not buying in toto either side's depiction of Edwards. As Doug suggests, that points to a split verdict. Thus the real offense system, most visibly symobolized by the relevant conduct rule -- and preserved by Booker at the expense of Blakelyizing the Guidelines -- will be on full display in the sentencing arguments.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 24, 2012 5:31:47 PM

They are probably wondering if Andrew Young should be in prison instead of Edwards.

Posted by: Anon | May 24, 2012 8:51:00 PM

Anon --

Slight amendment: They are probably wondering if Andrew Young should be in prison along with Edwards.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 24, 2012 9:13:46 PM

The only thing more disgraceful than Edwards's conduct - and this trial has shown him to be just an awful guy - is the prosecution itself. There's absolutely no reason to stretch the law like this for what is clearly unique set of facts.

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | May 24, 2012 10:29:41 PM

Bill:
I have always thought you were a blunt instrument. Your
"Slight amendment: They are probably wondering if Andrew Young should be in prison along with Edwards." makes me think in the long run you bluster more than you bully.
Maybe you are in the camp that believes Edwards, despite his efforts, should not be a Justice on SCOTUS.

Posted by: ? | May 24, 2012 11:31:57 PM

They are trying to figure out the difference between the allegations in this case and the bribe fest that goes on daily in Washington under the guise of lobbying.

Politicians misusing funds is an American tradition.

Posted by: Stanley Feldman | May 25, 2012 2:03:06 AM

The charges are lawyer gotcha to get the prosecutor in the paper.

Edward's biggest crimes have gone unanswered. He single handedly forced an increase in the Caesarian section rate of North Carolina. This lawyer's crimes are set out in his book Four Cases. His greatest thefts were the fees he earned in litigation, in a pro-lawyer, rigged court system. Instead of cushie prison time and trivial fines, the defendant victims of this predator should hunt him down, torture him, kill him, dump the body on the court steps. To deter.

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Posted by: Ken M. Frankel | May 25, 2012 5:06:01 AM

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Posted by: Daniel | May 25, 2012 1:55:25 PM

How come the Obama Administration policy of looking forward and not backward with respect to the murder, torture, FISA crimes, etc. of the Bush Administration does not apply to this typical lying and BS politics in which Edwards engaged?

Posted by: Calif. Capital Defense Counsel | May 25, 2012 3:59:07 PM

Because Edwards was the opposition, of course. Don't want him coming back from the dead after all.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | May 26, 2012 12:43:49 AM

Soronel --

I don't think anyone need worry that Edwards will be making a comeback no matter what the trial's outcome. He's admitted to cheating on his dying wife and denying his own daughter. Then there was the sex tape he made of himself when he was in his fifties.

Yes, he was the Democratic Party's proudly proclaimed choice to be a heartbeat away. But that was then.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 26, 2012 9:40:48 AM

AWESOME!! nice informative site.

Posted by: Earn GED Online | May 29, 2012 6:33:20 AM

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