State News

Quarter of jury pool disqualified in Edwards case

Posted April 16, 2012 12:17 p.m. EDT
Updated April 16, 2012 1:44 p.m. EDT

— A federal judge on Monday dismissed 47 of 185 potential jurors from the trial of John Edwards, many because they said they couldn't fairly weigh evidence involving the former Democratic presidential candidate.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles based the disqualifications on the responses to written questionnaires the jury pool submitted last week. In addition to people who said they had made up their minds about Edwards' guilt or innocence, people were dismissed for religious or health reasons or because serving on the six-week trial would be an economic hardship.

The remaining prospective jurors will return to the federal courthouse in Greensboro on Tuesday to undergo further questioning by Eagles.

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.

The money came from Edwards' 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. Both had already given Edwards' campaign the maximum $2,300 individual contribution allowed by federal law.

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

A Monday afternoon hearing on an attempt to quash a subpoena from Edwards' defense team was canceled after both sides worked out their differences.

Edwards wants information from Cary accountant David Harris regarding money former Edwards aide Andrew Young received for "The Politician," his tell-all book about the 2008 campaign and Edwards' affair.

Young, who initially claimed paternity of Hunter's daughter and helped shield her from the media, is expected to be a key witness for the prosecution in the trial.

The defense also has subpoenaed information from Wendy Button, a former Edwards speech writer. Eagles said she would take up an effort to quash that subpoena later in the week.