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What Happens if John Edwards' Jury Deadlocks?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 30, 2012 6:01 AM

Is John Edwards' jury deadlocked?

As jurors reconvened on Tuesday for the seventh day of deliberations, some commentators are starting to believe that this may be the case. The jury's inability to come to a decision suggests that the votes are split, or at the very least, some jurors can't quite wrap their heads around complicated federal election laws.

Though this seems like a good thing for Edwards, it may not get him off the hook.

Even if John Edwards' jury is deadlocked, he can still legally be retried. Generally speaking, a deadlocked jury results in a mistrial. Prosecutors can then retry the defendant on the charges the jury could not agree on.

This is exactly what happened with the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial in 2010. The jury found him guilty of only one count, but deadlocked on 23 others. The judge declared a mistrial, and in 2011, he was found guilty of 17 of the 20 charges prosecutors chose to re-file.

Whether prosecutors will take this route in the event of a mistrial is unclear. The case obviously isn't a slam dunk, and the law is complicated. Not only that, the Justice Department and Federal Election Commission disagree as to whether the money at issue even constituted campaign donations. This makes any conviction ripe for appeal.

So if John Edwards' jury deadlocks, it may very well not be worth it to go through another trial and appeal. Plus, with 17 days of testimony and a week of deliberations, a do-over may not be in the budget.

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