Local Politics

Judge, attorneys discuss note from Edwards jurors

Posted May 30, 2012

— As she did last Friday, the federal judge overseeing John Edwards' trial on campaign finance fraud charges closed the courtroom Wednesday afternoon to discuss jury-related issues with prosecutors and defense lawyers.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles and the attorneys went behind closed doors three times Wednesday afternoon to talk about a note a juror had sent to Eagles. It was unclear what was addressed in the note, but the judge said at the end of the day that the jury was in good health and had few scheduling conflicts in the near future.

Court observers have speculated that a juror has expressed concerns about the deliberations, which have stretched 45 hours over eight days since May 18.

On Tuesday, Eagles asked jurors to notify her if anyone thought something had happened that could interfere with the deliberations.

She has admonished the eight-man, four-woman jury twice in recent days not to discuss the case outside the jury room or deliberate if all 12 members aren't present.

"Small group discussions have the potential to cause division," Eagles told them Tuesday. "You act together, and so your discussions and deliberations should be together."

The government has accused Edwards, a former U.S. senator and two-time Democratic presidential candidate, of masterminding a scheme to use nearly $1 million in secret payments from Virginia heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon and Texas trial lawyer Fred Baron to help hide Edwards' pregnant mistress as he sought the White House in 2008.

Defense attorneys argued Edwards had little direct knowledge of the cover-up, which they say was directed by Baron and Edwards' one-time aide Andrew Young.

John Edwards leaving courthouse Note from Edwards juror raises concerns about deliberations

In their first four days of deliberations, jurors asked to review more than 20 exhibits, but all were related to payments that Mellon had routed through a Charlotte interior decorator to Young and his wife. They appeared to shift their attention to Baron for the first time last Thursday, asking for another 20 exhibits related to his payments.

Eagles then offered to send all 450-plus exhibits introduced during the nearly four weeks of testimony back to the jury room, and it's been unclear since then whether that has helped speed deliberations or simply bogged jurors down.

On Wednesday, Eagles dismissed the four alternate jurors, who have had to wait in a separate room from the jury every day since deliberations began. The three women and one man, dubbed by some media as "the giggle gang," gained notoriety last week by wearing color-coordinated clothing every day, from yellow to red to purple.

"Everyone in court is going to miss your cheerful faces. We will regret not knowing the color for tomorrow," Eagles said in allowing the alternates to return to their regular lives.

At least two of the alternates did a brief jig as they were led from the courtroom. But they still might need to be called back, however, if any of the 12 jurors gets sick or needs to bow out of deliberations for some reason.

Such a move would force the jury to scrap all of its deliberations so far and start again from scratch.

38 Comments

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  • dollibug May 31, 9:07 a.m.

    ++++I'm amazed by the behavior of some of these jurors. Shouldn't they be held in contempt of court for not taking their duties seriously?
    tsquaring

    No ONE....is held accountable and responsible for their actions....a person can file a *false police report* and nothing is done about it....there are laws which are suppose to cover people when things like this happen....but NO ONE does anything about it....people can get by with anything these days....

  • dollibug May 31, 9:05 a.m.

    ++++Interesting thing is that the Obama justice department had to approve this going to court.

    I'm figuring Edwards upset Obama, somebody high in the Obama administration or somebody hign in the DNC for this case to go to court.
    ConservativeVoter

    Yep....another wasteful *spending spree*....you think?

  • muggs May 30, 7:37 p.m.

    Hurry up folks, this is costing us money.

  • ConservativeVoter May 30, 6:30 p.m.

    Interesting thing is that the Obama justice department had to approve this going to court.

    I'm figuring Edwards upset Obama, somebody high in the Obama administration or somebody hign in the DNC for this case to go to court.

  • ConservativeVoter May 30, 6:29 p.m.

    "So proud of the jury in this case for not just believing what the Feds have to say and really thinking for themselves. We should all take away the lesson from this trial that the Feds can make-up charges against anyone, including you. Don't be so quick to judge. Even if there is a conviction there will be an appeal and he will win. Like him or not, this was a total witch hunt. ladyF"

    We all know Edwards is guilty, proving it is the problem.

    Edwards was smart enough to have the money trail point to the Youngs and not him.

    Edwards was smart enough to put nothing in writing so it's a case of which liar the jury believes more.

    The piece that makes Edwards guilty is that Melon and Baron wouldn't have spent a Million dollars to hide the mistress and the baby if Edwards wasn't running for President.

    It wasn't to protect Elizabeth because she campaigned for Edwards after finding out about the mistress and the baby.

  • tsquaring May 30, 6:28 p.m.

    I'm amazed by the behavior of some of these jurors. Shouldn't they be held in contempt of court for not taking their duties seriously?

  • ConservativeVoter May 30, 6:25 p.m.

    The other thing about the jury system is that the jurors are only allowed to deliberate on what they hear in the courtroom.

    The DA and defense attorney can block testimony that's damaging to their case.

    The courtroom has turned into a theater with the best actor (lawyer) getting the jury on his side and winning.

    To be fair, juries should be able to consider all sources whether or not they were presented in the courtroom.

    Unfortunately in most trials, the public has access to more information than the jury does and can make a better decision than the jury in most cases.

  • ladyF May 30, 6:18 p.m.

    So proud of the jury in this case for not just believing what the Feds have to say and really thinking for themselves. We should all take away the lesson from this trial that the Feds can make-up charges against anyone, including you. Don't be so quick to judge. Even if there is a conviction there will be an appeal and he will win. Like him or not, this was a total witch hunt.

  • discowhale May 30, 6:07 p.m.

    cvrdurham,
    HOW is this a GOP fail?

    These are federal charges, against Edwards, who is a lifelong Democrat, the charges were brought by President Obama's Justice Department, headed by Eric Holder, Mr O's Atty General, both of whom are Democrats.

    So, HOW, oh HOW is any of THAT a GOP fail?

    Just because WRAL and the MSM continue to leave OUT Edwards party affiliation (HE'S STILL A DEMOCRAT FOLKS), doesn't make it unknown!

    You get 4 points for attempting to throw people off the track, and lose 5 points for trying to do it by making such a silly statement.

    Your John Edwards Trial Scorecard should read "-1" for today!
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    as400,
    we kicked King George in the behind to get rid of such judicial foolishness. We don't need professional jurors, what we need is fewer 'excuses' for getting out of jury duty, so the populace IS represented better!
    . . southern girl, 'jury of peers' meant NO PROFESSIONAL jurors, it never meant same monetary or job level. . . Read some American History folks!

  • bombayrunner May 30, 5:31 p.m.

    A jury is always right when they agree with you.

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