Edwards Trial Starts With Critical Testimony — And Rulings On Admissibility

The start of the trial of John Edwards had a couple of surprises with the testimony of Edwards’ first top aide, Andrew Young. The Court has drawn an interesting line on what can be admitted and what is to be excluded in the salacious trial — a line that has largely worked against Edwards.

As I have discussed earlier, the case raises a troubling expansion of the definition of what constitutes a campaign contribution. The trial itself, however, presents a challenge for the defense in dealing with a defendant who will be described in the most unflattering way — an adulterous husband who cheated on his wife while she was suffering from cancer. The Court clearly should not protect a defendant from the negative implications of his own conduct when relevant to the case. However, some of the testimony would make anyone wince, even after dismissing Edwards as a narcissistic creep.

Young testified that Edwards told him that Edwards’ former mistress Rielle Hunter “was a crazy slut, and it was a one-in-three chance that it was his child.” Young said that Edwards hatched the plan for him to fake being the father of the child and directed him to contact donors. He also said that Edwards referred to the donor checks in code because he did not want to damage his chances to be U.S. Attorney General — presumably Obama’s Attorney General.

Young, however, appears to have used most of the money to build himself a luxury home costing $1.5 million, according to opening statements.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles has made a couple of critical decisions on admissibility. First, it was disclosed that Young recently contacted three other witnesses in the trial to ask what they planned to say. That is a very serious breach and it is not clear whether the prosecutors knew of the contacts or properly instructed Young that any such contact would be highly inappropriate. Eagles does not seem to have pressed particularly hard on that inquiry. She will allow the defense to raise the contacts in cross-examination (an obvious decision) but took no further action. However, she barred the defense from revealing that Young had a one-night-stand with an unidentified witness in the case. That would seem pretty relevant to both of their testimony — particularly after Young appears to have sought to confirm or coordinate testimony.

There are significant questions about Young’s character and credibility. His importance has been magnified by the prosecution by putting him first — a risky choice. With all of the evidence coming in against Edwards, it would seem to me that it is material to raise Young’s own relationship with another witness (if she testifies), particularly if the later witness will corroborate aspects of Young’s testimony. However, Eagles barred not just reference in court but the identification of the other witness.

What do you think? Should the one-night stand have been excluded?

Source: Daily Mail

30 thoughts on “Edwards Trial Starts With Critical Testimony — And Rulings On Admissibility”

  1. Tony C.

    Perhaps you need to schedule an appointment at a certain medical facility in Telluride, Colorado. I’m sure they can fix you the way you want.

  2. @Matt: I have no problem, if you think I do, you are illiterate.

    Isn’t that why women have the evolutionary thought processes that they have?

    No. Women did not evolve those thought processes in response to men; they have them in response to their own enormous biological costs and risks of pregnancy and child rearing.

    A presumption that women are selective because men are not selective subordinates women to men; it presumes the male psyche is fixed and immutable and women must adapt to it.

    Likewise, men have not evolved their thought processes because of women, they have evolved their thought processes because for males, and for a billion years before hominid speces even appeared, the procreative act is biologically dirt cheap and nearly risk free.

    Matt says: Are you a complete idiot?

    Can you be more precise? What exactly makes an idiot “complete?”

    I am not gay. I was referring to studies of strokes in heterosexuals and homosexuals, by gender, which reveal brain organization.

    Straight women recover from strokes better than straight men, due to their differences in brain organization. For straight women, a small stroke will impair a large number of functions, but they also tend to recover most of those functions with time. This is because the straight woman’s brain tends to be organized so that thinking is well distributed over the cortex, as we can also see in PET scans.

    Straight males, on the other hand, tend to have thinking occur in localized areas of neurons; and what that means is when they have a stroke they lose fewer functions, and tend to never recover those abilities.

    These differences are largely reversed in (self-identified, lifelong) homosexual males and females. Homosexual females tend to suffer strokes like straight men; and homosexual males tend to suffer strokes like straight woman. Pet scans of healthy homosexual brains in action (that have never had a stroke) also show a tendency to reversed activity.

    This difference in brain organization seems to be related to a surge of a hormone called androsterone during fetal development; this preferentially happens when the fetal chromosomes are XY (male) instead of XX (female). However, for reasons unknown (but possibly related to the genetics of the mother, not the fetus) the signal sometimes misfire, and an XY baby has no surge of androsterone, and ends up with a highly distributed brain organization, or an XX baby does get a surge of androsterone, and ends up with a highly localized brain organization.

    It has been speculated that this same surge of androsterone (or lack thereof) determines one’s instinctive sexual orientation.

  3. @Gene: …is dependent upon consistent cultural/social consequences

    Another good point, and probably the most important. I agree, and I will note that it seems the consequences are already fading, to some extent. There are far more single mothers than there used to be and any stigma of being born out of wedlock or being pregnant without being married has essentially vanished, at least in the developed urban areas of the world.

    I’d wager adults from the 1950’s would be astonished at the extent of that cultural shift, just as we might be astonished at what the next 50 years brings.

  4. Tony C.

    What’s your problem? From an evolutionary prospective, males aren’t that selective with regard to procreation. Isn’t that why women have the evolutionary thought processes that they have? Are you a complete idiot?

    What do you know about catastrophic mutations and foundational structures? Are you gay? If you are, you don’t need to worry about it.

  5. Tony,

    I’ll accept the stipulation of “could”, but I also think that the few thousands of years it would take before such an influence manifested is dependent upon consistent cultural/social consequences based on genetics across the same period. That I see as being extremely problematic to the point of being impossible.

  6. @Gene: Unlike being viewed under a microscope, DNA testing of fatherhood has consequences that, theoretically, could severely impact the ability of the father to maximize his procreative activity. By putting him in jail, garnishing his wages, etc.

    Now that IS an artificial selective process, but that is how all specialty breeding is done; and it works. From an evolutionary perspective, that sort of pressure should push males to be more selective in procreation, not just intellectually (which is cultural, not biological) but instinctively and emotionally.

    However, the longer any adaptation is around, the more likely it is for later evolved structures to rely upon it, and the more catastrophic a mutation becomes. For example, there are some enzymes, proteins and compounds in the body that seem to have a few dozen distinct purposes. But you will also find them in primitive worms or bacteria; they have just been around so long, and are reactively useful, that they have been recruited for these many other purposes along the way. They are like “foundational” structures.

    I have no idea how, exactly, genes influence core psychology, but I am convinced they do (partly because of the gay stroke studies) so I speculate that the psychology of sexual attraction is also “foundational,” it has to be very early, this instinct across species that males compete for women and women choose from suitors. A few thousand years of culture won’t change that.

    So, what I was saying is that I think DNA testing could provide evolutionary pressure to change the male biological instinct to mate without regard to probable future costs, but that instinct is probably too foundational and linked up with general male psychology to be easily changed.

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