Edwards not likely to face retrial

June 1, 2012 at 3:13 PM
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GREENSBORO, N.C., June 1 (UPI) -- A retrial for former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., on corruption charges is unlikely, officials say.

Edwards, also a former Democratic presidential hopeful, was acquitted Thursday of taking illegal campaign contributions in 2008 from Rachel "Bunny" Mellon and spending the money to hide his affair with former campaign worker Rielle Hunter. A U.S. District Court judge declared a mistrial after the jury deliberated for nine days but was unable to come to a conclusion on five other charges Edwards faced.

A person with knowledge of the case said it is unlikely Edwards will be retried and prosecutors agree," USA Today reported.

"The facts aren't going to change; the law isn't going to change," federal prosecutor Marcellus McRae told USA Today. "Why should the outcome change?"

"The entire case depends on determining his intent," McRae said of Edwards. "Was his intent to influence the outcome of an election or was it to conceal an affair from his wife? When you have to get into mind-reading, that's a hard case to make."

Michael Toner, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, said the government had a difficult time trying Edwards and, because of that, a retrial isn't likely.

"Trying to win a criminal conviction on complex FEC reporting matters is inherently difficult and generally not appropriate for criminal prosecution," Toner said.

Robert Bittman, who served as a deputy independent counsel in the investigation of former President Bill Clinton, said Edwards' notoriety also may have helped his case deadlock the jury.

"In general, it is difficult to prosecute people of some celebrity," Bittman said. "Frequently, you are faced with jurors who are willing to give a person like that the benefit of the doubt even when that person is the subject of some very negative information, as Edwards was in this case."

He added, "Unlike a theft, robbery or murder, people don't have a visceral reaction to wrongdoing in a case like this."

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