Judge withholds decision on elections experts in Edwards case
Posted December 16, 2011
GREENSBORO, N.C. — A federal judge said Friday that she wants to see how the case against former Democratic presidential contender John Edwards plays out before deciding whether to allow two potential defense witnesses to testify.
Defense lawyers want Scott Thomas and Robert Lenhard, two former commissioners of the Federal Election Commission, to testify about their doubts that Edwards violated campaign finance law when two of his donors provided nearly $1 million to help hide and care for his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, during his 2008 run for the White House.
Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six felony and misdemeanor charges in the case. His trial is set for Jan. 30.
Federal prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles to prohibit Thomas and Lenhard from offering their opinions on election law, saying the judge is responsible for interpreting the law in the case.
Eagles denied the prosecutors' motion but said she might reconsider during the trial, after hearing their case. She even told defense attorneys that they can't mention any expert testimony to jurors until she decides whether to allow it.
The judge also denied a defense motion seeking more information from prosecutors about conspirators discussed in Edwards' indictment who weren't identified. She told defense attorneys that they could probably determine the identities of the people without any extra help.