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John Edwards Not Guilty: Will Prosecutors Retry Him After Mistrial?

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on May 31, 2012 3:42 PM

John Edwards has been acquitted on one count in his federal campaign corruption case, and a judge has declared a mistrial on the remaining five counts.

The mixed result ends a tumultuous afternoon in court. The judge in Greensboro, N.C., initially thought jurors had reached a verdict on all six counts, the Associated Press reports. But when jurors said they were deadlocked on five of the charges, the judge sent them back to try again.

But after about an hour, jurors again said they couldn't agree on verdicts for the five remaining counts. The judge accepted that, and declared a mistrial for those charges.

So which count did jurors acquit him on? Will prosecutors dare to retry him a second time?

John Edwards' not-guilty verdict was for Count 3, which alleged the former senator and presidential candidate received campaign contributions from a wealthy donor, Bunny Mellon, which exceeded federal limits in 2008.

But at trial, Edwards' lawyers argued Mellon's $725,000 in checks were not campaign donations, but rather private gifts intended to hide Edwards' infamous extramarital affair from his wife, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Since a judge declared a mistrial on the five remaining counts, prosecutors can attempt to try John Edwards again on those charges. If convicted, Edwards could face a possible 25-year prison sentence if convicted. But after nine days of deliberation, you have to wonder how confident prosecutors could be about this case. That doesn't even broach the subject of how much the government spent on this prosecution.

The charges that jurors deadlocked on were:

  • Count 1: Conspiring to receive and hide donations exceeding the federal limits from Mellon and Edwards' finance chairman, the late Fred Baron;
  • Count 2: Receiving campaign contributions from Mellon in excess of federal limits in 2007;
  • Count 4: Receiving campaign contributions from Barron in excess of federal limits in 2007;
  • Count 5: Receiving campaign contributions from Barron in excess of federal limits in 2008; and
  • Count 6: Making false statements in the form of inaccurate campaign finance reports to the Federal Election Commission.
So while John Edwards' not guilty verdict had him smiling and thanking his family afterwards, he could still face another jury on these remaining counts. The next move is up to prosecutors.

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