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Edwards Verdict Another Big Blow To Department Of Justice

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The partial acquittal and mistrial on Thursday in the John Edwards trial is the second high-profile loss this year for the Justice Department’s public integrity section.

In the earlier loss, an Alabama jury acquitted several defendants in an alleged bribery and corruption scheme involving an effort to legalize gambling, the New York Times reports.

After nine days of deliberations, the Edwards jury acquitted the former Democratic presidential candidate on one campaign finance charge and deadlocked on five other counts. At issue was whether Edwards used illegal campaign contributions to conceal an affair. The acquittal concerned $200,000 from heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon that was deposited after Edwards dropped out of the presidential race, the Washington Post reports.

Prosecutors had to prove Edwards knew about the payments; he claimed he was unaware of them, the Associated Press reports. A "knowledgeable law enforcement source" tells the Associated Press in a separate story that Edwards is unlikely to be retried.

Critics said the Justice Department based its aggressive prosecution on a novel interpretation of campaign finance law. The case was the first to prosecute someone for campaign finance violations based on money paid to a third party, observers said.

The verdict was a blow to a DOJ unit that has been trying to rebuild itself from the failed prosecution of Sen. Ted Stevens four years ago, the Times says. The Justice Department recently announced temporary suspensions of two prosecutors in the Stevens case for failing to turn over exculpatory information.

In an interview with the New York Times before the verdict, the leader of the public integrity unit, Jack Smith, defended his office’s performance. He said the media has focused on only a few cases. Last year, 47 defendants in public integrity cases pleaded guilty and 13 were convicted at trial. So far this year, 15 have pleaded guilty and eight have been convicted.

The results are part of a push to litigate more cases, he said. “We’re trying more cases than ever before in the section, and winning more than ever,” said Smith, who was appointed to his job two years ago.

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Guest Deisel

Edwards is truely a sick man. His lying style in the court room when practicing almost bankrupted the NC OBGYN business. I hope this man pays for his actions. He is a wart on soceity.

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Edwards is truely a sick man. His lying style in the court room when practicing almost bankrupted the NC OBGYN business. I hope this man pays for his actions. He is a wart on soceity.


Here's the excerpt from his wikipedia page on his legal career. Pretty impressive stuff, despite the fact that he is a truly disgusting human being.


After law school, Edwards clerked for a federal judge and in 1978 became an associate at the Nashville law firm of Dearborn & Ewing, doing primarily trial work, defending a Nashville bank and other corporate clients. The Edwards family returned to North Carolina in 1981, settling in the capital of Raleigh where he joined the firm of Tharrington, Smith & Hargrove.[6]

In 1984 Edwards was assigned to a medical malpractice lawsuit that had been perceived to be unwinnable; the firm had accepted it only as a favor to an attorney and state senator who did not want to keep it. Nevertheless, Edwards won a $3.7 million verdict on behalf of his client, who had suffered permanent brain and nerve damage after a doctor prescribed an overdose of the anti-alcoholism drug Antabuse during alcohol aversion therapy.[7] In other cases, Edwards sued the American Red Cross three times, alleging transmission of AIDS through tainted blood products, resulting in a confidential settlement each time, and defended a North Carolina newspaper against a libel charge.[6]

In 1985, Edwards represented a five-year-old child born with cerebral palsy – a child whose mother's doctor did not choose to perform an immediate Caesarean delivery when a fetal monitor showed she was in distress. Edwards won a $6.5 million verdict for his client, but five weeks later, the presiding judge sustained the verdict, but overturned the award on grounds that it was "excessive" and that it appeared "to have been given under the influence of passion and prejudice," adding that in his opinion "the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict."[6] He offered the plaintiffs $3.25 million, half of the jury's award, but the child's family appealed the case and received $4.25 million in a settlement.[6] Winning this case established the North Carolina precedent of physician and hospital liability for failing to determine if the patient understood the risks of a particular procedure.[7]

After this trial, Edwards gained national attention as a plaintiff's lawyer. He filed at least twenty similar lawsuits in the years following and achieved verdicts and settlements of more than $60 million for his clients. Similar lawsuits followed across the country. When asked about an increase in Caesarean deliveries nationwide, perhaps to avoid similar medical malpractice lawsuits, Edwards said, "The question is, would you rather have cases where that happens instead of having cases where you don't intervene and a child either becomes disabled for life or dies in utero?"[6]

In 1993, Edwards began his own firm in Raleigh (now named Kirby & Holt) with a friend, David Kirby. He became known as the top plaintiffs' attorney in North Carolina.[6] The biggest case of his legal career was a 1996 product liability lawsuit against Sta-Rite, the manufacturer of a defective pool drain cover. The case involved Valerie Lakey, a three-year-old girl[8] who was disemboweled by the suction power of the pool drain pump when she sat on an open pool drain whose protective cover had been removed by other children at the pool, after the swim club had failed to install the cover properly. Despite 12 prior suits with similar claims, Sta-Rite continued to make and sell drain covers lacking warnings. Sta-Rite protested that an additional warning would have made no difference because the pool owners already knew the importance of keeping the cover secured.

In his closing arguments, Edwards spoke to the jury for an hour and a half and referenced his son, Wade, who had been killed shortly before testimony began. Mark Dayton, editor of North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, would later call it "the most impressive legal performance I have ever seen."[9] The jury awarded the family $25 million, the largest personal injury award in North Carolina history. The company settled for the $25 million while the jury was deliberating additional punitive damages, rather than risk losing an appeal. For their part in this case, Edwards and law partner David Kirby earned the Association of Trial Lawyers of America's national award for public service.[7] The family said that they hired Edwards over other attorneys because he alone had offered to accept a smaller percentage as fee unless the award was unexpectedly high, while all of the other lawyers they spoke with said they required the full one-third fee. The size of the jury award was unprecedented, and Edwards did receive the standard one-third-plus-expenses fee typical of contingency cases. The family was so impressed with his intelligence and commitment[6] that they volunteered for his Senate campaign the next year.

After Edwards won a large verdict against a trucking company whose worker had been involved in a fatal accident, the North Carolina legislature passed a law prohibiting such awards unless the company had specifically sanctioned the employee's actions.[6]

In December 2003, during his first presidential campaign, Edwards (with John Auchard) published Four Trials, a biographical book focusing on cases from his legal career. According to this book, the success of the Sta-Rite case and his son's death (Edwards had hoped his son would eventually join him in private law practice) prompted Edwards to leave the legal profession and seek public office.[citation needed]

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Is he a ***** yes did the justice dept ever have a case heck no. Edwards didn't even benefit from the money ??? Complete waste of time and money. Glad the jury put their opinion of him aside and looked at what was presented.

Mdrake you are right at one time he was one h3ll of a lawyer.

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