U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles sent the jury home for the day after saying earlier several jurors and some alternates mentioned wanting to attend family graduation ceremonies next week -- indicating jurors haven't ruled out stretching their deliberation beyond Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Eagles seemed inclined to let jurors out early on certain days to attend graduations.
One of the four alternate jurors dismissed Wednesday was a young woman who, courtroom observers said, flirted repeatedly with Edwards. By the time the judge dismissed the alternate jurors, all four of them had caused talk in the courtroom by showing up wearing the same colors for four days in a row -- yellow on May 24, red the following day, black and gray Tuesday and purple Wednesday, The Washington Post reported.
"Everyone in the courtroom is going to miss your cheerful faces and we'll regret not knowing the color for tomorrow," Eagles told the alternate jurors, whose names have not been reported.
The alternates -- who have not participated in the jury deliberation -- can be recalled if needed to replace a member of the jury.
Reporters and spectators have been studying the body language of jurors in an effort to determine whether the panel is deadlocked or still slogging through mountains of exhibits from the 17-day trial.
Edwards is charged with accepting illegal campaign contributions, conspiracy to receive and conceal the contributions and falsifying documents, which carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.
At issue is whether Edwards knew about the contributions -- received during his 2008 campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination -- and whether he was aware they were illegal.