State News

Feds in Edwards case seek to bar expert testimony

Posted November 29, 2011

— Federal prosecutors on Monday asked a judge to bar two former commissioners of the Federal Election Commission from testifying as expert witnesses at the upcoming trial of former Democratic presidential contender John Edwards.

Defense lawyers want the former federal elections officials, Scott Thomas and Robert Lenhard, 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. His trial is set for Jan. 30.

"It is a fundamental precept that expert testimony on the meaning and applicability of relevant law is inadmissible. This is because each trial court already has its own legal expert: the judge," prosecutors argued in their motion to stop Thomas and Lenhard from testifying.

Prosecutors maintain that the two witnesses would provide nothing more than their legal opinions regarding the legality of Edwards' campaign donors giving money to Hunter.

"An expert who offers legal conclusions usurps not only the judge's duty to set forth the law but also the jury's duty to apply this law to the evidence," the motion states.


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  • Karmageddon Nov 30, 2011

    They should cut him a deal and be done with it before the circus gets started.

  • Here2tellya Nov 30, 2011

    blah blah blah, he should just take a plea bargain and get it over with. All this legal wrangling is just Edwards trying to beat the system. His career is over with anyway, what's he got to lose now? Respect? That's gone too. I think if he manned up and admitted it, paid back the money and made ammends he would gain a lot more respect for doing the right thing. The career, however, will never recover. His sentence should be to do pro bono work for the DA's office for the next 10 years at no pay. Now THAT would be justice.

  • rherring23 Nov 29, 2011

    That's exactly right, their expert (and expert is the key) opinion is being asked. If they are experts, then they should know the law better than anyone. The judge may not actually know anything about that specific law and can only go by what he reads in the statute books and expert opinion. So what now, we are innocent until proven guilty, but we can't use all resources at our disposal to defend ourselves. Then we will be guilty if only one side of the testamony is allowed to convict us.

  • The Fox Nov 29, 2011

    Both experts were appointed to the FEC by Republican Presidents.

  • josephlawrence43 Nov 29, 2011

    Kinda gives one the impression that the feds have a rather weak case here--

  • dollibug Nov 29, 2011

    The network of GOOD OLE BOYS AND GIRLS....are there to protect each other's backs....and with this being said....what part is so hard to understand?

  • JayJay Nov 29, 2011

    I sort of feel like this is all a waste of taxpayers money. He got caught with the woman. It doesn't sound like they can really prove those donations were not personal gifts. He'll never hold another office and probably can't get work.

  • saturn5 Nov 29, 2011

    The reasoning sound valid. The "experts" are being asked to testify about whether or not campaign finance law was violated. That's what the trial is for. It's not like they'd be testifying on forensic evidence or a crime scene, etc. Their expert opinion is being asked to draw a legal conclusion.

  • abylelab -BT- Nov 29, 2011

    typical, prosecutors do everything they can to try to make justice unfair.