Local Politics

Edwards legal team shuffled many times before trial

Posted April 9, 2012

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— Jury selection is expected to begin next Monday for the criminal trial of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but the legal team accompanying Edwards to the federal courthouse in Greensboro will be far different from the lawyers who represented him when he was indicted last June.

Edwards, a former U.S. senator, is charged with six counts of violating federal campaign finance laws in connection with $900,000 that two wealthy donors paid to hide Edwards' mistress from the public during his 2008 run for the White House.

Eleven attorneys have represented Edwards at one time or another since his indictment, but only four will sit with him at the defense table when testimony begins on April 23.

Raleigh lawyer Wade Smith, Charlotte lawyer Jim Cooney and three Washington, D.C., lawyers, David Foster, Gregory Craig and Clifford Sloan, were on Edwards' legal team at the time of his indictment.

At some point, J. Michael McGuinness from Elizabethtown was added to the team.

By the end of September, however, Foster, Craig and Sloan were removed, and Washington attorneys Abbe Lowell and Chris Man took their place.

In October, Smith and McGuinness were out. Federal prosecutors suggested that Smith could have a conflict of interest because he might be called as a witness in the case.

Four attorneys to represent Edwards at trial Four attorneys to represent Edwards at trial

That same day, Claire Rauscher, who works with Cooney, joined the defense team.

Last month, Cooney and Rauscher were replaced by Alan Duncan and Allison Van Laningham, who both represented Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, in her civil lawsuit against former Edwards aide Andrew Young over items she claims were stolen from her, including a videotape purported to show Edwards and Hunter having sex.

Young is expected to be a key prosecution witness in the case, and prosecutors have granted Hunter legal immunity for any testimony she provides, as long as she's truthful.

Duncan also worked in the same law firm as U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles, who is overseeing Edwards' case, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Several local attorneys said they don't think it's a big deal that a defense attorney and the judge once worked together, especially since it was so long ago.


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  • barbstillkickin Apr 10, 2012

    Will you please stop reporting on this guy and his legal team. I really do not care because he will never do time so please do not waste my time WRAl and report about it. I would rather hear about some good news if that is all you got to report on. He is a messed up person and he does not deserve to be in the paper or on the news. I feel so sorry for his kids now that the real parent they had is gone.

  • Karmageddon Apr 10, 2012

    Why fight it? If he's found guilty then he'll get a few months in a cushy prison where he can relax and work on his tan.

  • not my real name Apr 10, 2012

    blah blah blah more wiggling around the system trying to beat the rap. He should just take a plea and get it over with. His reputation is in the toilet anyway, not to mention where is career is now located....hahahaha

  • superman Apr 10, 2012

    Maybe he is broke and is not paying them. If the money is good why do they leave? I am sure his parents and children are so very proud of him! He had money and fame and threw it away.

  • westernwake1 Apr 9, 2012

    Edwards can shuffle his legal deck all he wants, the end result will still be the same after the trial. GUILTY!

  • are you kidding me Apr 9, 2012

    leave this man alone...waste of money like prosecuting Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and Lance Armstrong...