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