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The Greek Tragedy Continues: Edwards to be Indicted?

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 05, 2010 12:15 PM

Like so many scandals, the John Edwards debacle has more chapters than a Russian novel. In not perfect chronological order came; first, the plain old sex scandal involving Edwards and campaign videographer Rielle Hunter, then the admission of the existence of their child. Next, enter Andrew Young with his tell-all book deal. The sex tape portion of the drama followed soon after, including a court's requirement that Mr. Young be "assisted" by a security guard when retrieving the tape and any additional portraits of Ms. Hunter or her child to present to the court. Next, in an unwise move, there was the threat of a court action by Elizabeth Edwards against Mr. Young for alienation of affection.

Finally, in what is surely not the last word, there is word of a looming indictment of Edwards by a grand jury for campaign finance improprieties.

Noting that this is "proof that things can always get worse" CBS News reports today that Edwards is expected to be indicted soon by a federal grand jury. The financial charges will allegedly stem from payments Hunter received while she was part of the Edwards campaign staff. 

A grand jury is a body of citizens gathered to decide if there is a probable cause to indict an individual (Edwards) or corporations on criminal charges based upon the evidence presented. Grand jury sessions are held in a private room with only the grand jury, which consists of 23 individuals, government lawyers, court reporters, an interpreter if needed, and the witnesses to be heard, all under oath. The jury can sit for up to 36 months, but normally does not convene everyday.

Though former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, Sol Wachtler, famously observed, any prosecutor worth his or her salt can get a "grand jury to indict a ham sandwich," Edwards still has cause for concern. Although the grand jury is only empowered to decide if the defendant should be put on trial for the charges, the vast negative publicity he has received may make it difficult for him to get a fair trial, in his home sate of North Carolina or elsewhere.

The more conventionally respected news sources reporting on this story both cite Enquirer's report that an Edwards indictment is eminent. The Enquirer also broke the news of the affair between Edwards and Hunter, back in 2007, and news of the their child.