Local News

Jury pool qualified for Edwards trial

Posted April 18, 2012 4:47 p.m. EDT
Updated April 19, 2012 6:37 p.m. EDT

— A federal judge has qualified 42 potential jurors for former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' trial on alleged campaign finance violations.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles said she wanted to provide prosecutors and defense attorneys with at least 40 jurors whom she deems fair and impartial. Attorneys for both sides will then pick 12 jurors and four alternates next Monday, when the six-week trial is expected to begin.

Eagles apologized several times Wednesday for the slow pace of qualifying jurors, saying that she was "a bad estimator of time." But she vowed she would keep the process moving.

She finished up questioning on Thursday, when several people were excused for economic and personal reasons.

A planned Friday hearing regarding a defense subpoena of information from former Edwards speech-writer Wendy Button has been canceled, but it was unclear whether the two sides had worked out their differences.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts related to secret payments from wealthy campaign donors used to hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, as he sought the White House in 2008.

His national campaign finance chairman, the late Texas lawyer Fred Baron, and campaign donor Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, an heiress and socialite who is now 101 years old, gave nearly $1 million combined for Hunter's medical care and to pay for flights and accommodations for her during the campaign. Both had already given Edwards' campaign the maximum $2,300 individual contribution allowed by federal law.

Edwards maintains the money for Hunter was personal gifts and not contributions to his campaign.