Feds in Edwards case seek to bar expert testimony
Posted November 29, 2011
GREENSBORO, N.C. — 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.