State News

Edwards' trial delayed because of heart condition

Posted January 13, 2012 4:01 a.m. EST
Updated January 13, 2012 6:31 p.m. EST

— A federal judge on Friday delayed John Edwards' trial on alleged campaign finance violations for at least two months because the two-time Democratic presidential candidate is suffering from a heart condition.

The trial had been set to begin Jan. 30, but U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles said the earliest it could begin is March 26. No new trail date has been set.

Eagles said in court that she has received letters from two cardiologists, stating that they have scheduled a medical procedure for Edwards in February and that a trial would "reduce the chance for success."

Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina, is on medication for the heart condition, the doctors said in the letters. He's also prohibited from driving.

Defense lawyers also noted that they have had a hard time meeting with Edwards in recent weeks to prepare for trial because of his health.

Court records detailing Edwards' condition have been kept under seal.

After a brief closed-door meeting Friday afternoon with Edwards, his attorneys and federal prosecutors, Eagles granted the defense request for a delay, saying "real and serious health issues" were at stake.

"I'm happy for his health," defense attorney Jim Cooney said as he left the federal courthouse in Greensboro.

Prosecutors said they have been ready to try Edwards on six felony and misdemeanor counts related to nearly $1 million from wealthy donors used to help hide his pregnant mistress during his 2008 While House run.

Edwards has maintained that the money was a gift and not unreported campaign contributions.