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. @Matt: I was just getting the facts straight, I wasn’t trying to insult you. But feel free to take offense if that entertains you.

  2. Tony,

    While I agree there are deep-rooted genetic differences between males and females, this statement caused me to scratch my head: “We have not had time for evolution to adapt to DNA testing; and this gender-based difference in psychology and mating is so deep-rooted we will probably never adapt to it.” I can see no reason why our genes would ever mutate to accommodate either testing or even full sequencing. It’s like expecting microbes to evolve due to the invention of the microscope.

  3. I believe that the “explanation” for the $1.5m mansion was to provide a house for Rielle and the baby, part of the ruse that Young was the father and had to provide for Rielle’s and the baby’s home with his wife and kids. (Think of the family dynamics in that loving home!!!.)

    I have more problems with the ruling re Young’s questioning other witnesses re their testimony. Young is a lawyer, I believe. He shouldn’t have needed an instruction from the fed prosecutors not to do this.

    His credibility is already shredded, with his book filled with self admitted lies and distortions.

    I am not a litigator so don’t know what the remedy would be for Young’s obviously knowingly wrong transgression-excluding his testimony completely? Seriously, this is way out of my area…. It just seems as though the judge’s treatment of this misconduct by a lawyer was too insignificant.

  4. @Matt: I probably know more about DNA than 99.99% of adults on this planet. Evolutionary biological differences between males and females has about a billion years on DNA testing; this difference in instinctual behavior between males and females has been observed in species with very tiny brains. For example, look at birds like the peacock and peahen.

    We have not had time for evolution to adapt to DNA testing; and this gender-based difference in psychology and mating is so deep-rooted we will probably never adapt to it. Male and female brains are, literally, organized differently; in fact so differently they have very different recovery responses to brain-damaging strokes and accidents.

  5. Tony,

    Do you know what DNA testing is? You can’t run over the hill any more.

  6. @Matt: Actually it is the other way around, girls pose naked because guys get turned on by pictures and there is money to be made in turning guys on.

    So why do guys get turned on by pictures, far more so than girls? (Judging by the markets of the beauty, modeling and porn industry).

    There is an evolutionary explanation; it costs a man 15 minutes of energy and maybe 100 calories to father a child, there is very little risk. There is a great deal of time and risk and ten thousand times the caloric cost for a woman to mother a child, when all is said and done. So evolution favors a sexual biology for men that is fast on the draw, and a sexual biology for women that is far more discriminating.

  7. What’s the big deal with the sex nonsense? Why do guys look at pictures of naked girls? Because girls pose naked.

  8. Lest we forget some of the Republicans who sinned and yet remained in office . . .

    1. Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC), who called for the ousters of Bill Clinton and Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA) over their extramarital affairs, admitted to a year-long affair with a woman in Buenos Aires after disappearing for a week in June 2009. He served out the remainder of his term.

    2. Florida State Rep. Bob Allen (R), co-chair of McCain’s 2008 Florida campaign, was arrested for offering an undercover cop $20 to perform oral sex on him. He later said he was afraid of becoming a “statistic,” as he thought the black cop was a mugger.

    3. In June 2007, Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) was arrested for allegedly attempting to solicit a police officer in an airport men’s room for sexual activity. He wavered in his response to the charges — first maintaining his innocence, then pleading guilty, and announcing his intention to resign before deciding to serve out the rest of his term.

    4. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), an abstinence-only sex ed advocate, was linked to the high-end DC Madam escort service in July 2007. He won re-election in 2010 by nearly 20 points.

    5. Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), who has preached the “sanctity of marriage,” admitted in June 2009 to an affair with Cynthia Hampton, a staffer and the wife of another Ensign staffer, whom Ensign helped to secure new employment after the affair was discovered. Ensign [only] later resigned amid a congressional investigation.

    6. In late 2006, Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) was accused of assaulting a woman in a parking garage by throwing her against a wall and threatening to rape her. She dropped criminal charges, citing intimidation by his campaign, but filed a civil suit. In June 2009, Gibbons asked a judge to seal his phone records against her lawyers, something that may also have had to do with his ongoing divorce proceedings, in which he was accused of more affairs. He served out his term.

    7.After Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY) was arrested for drunk driving in May 2008, he revealed that he had had an extramarital affair and had a three-year old child by his mistress. He served out his term.

    8. And, of course, the awful Rep. Dan Burton (Republican from Indiana) who — despite fathering an out-of-wedlock child while he was supposedly happily married — is (last I heard) STILL IN the House of Representatives where he can sermonize on morals and ethics to the rest of us. He paid child support for his illegitimate son, but refused to have anything to do with the child.

    9. And, then there is the ethically- and morally-challenged Newt Gingrich who cheated on two wives with numerous illicit affairs and was forced to resign from the House of Representatives over ethics violations, BUT he has been considered a “serious” candidate for the presidency.

    Some of the above were gathered from: http://tinyurl.com/42yr8vl


  9. treemonkeyjimmetz,

    Have you forgotten about John Ensign so quickly. Why wasn’t he prosecuted for essentially the same “crime” minus the high probability of sexual harassment? Oh that’s right, he’s a Republican and to those like you they are held to no standards at all except to follow the party line.

  10. Sex laws.

    Gosh, in this date of terror war indifference, waterboard and torture, get away with it but use government money for sex and it’s all over. What is with Obama’s security detail anyway? I mean Obama didn’t care about Salazar’s drug and sex parties with the big oil people, hiring and firing a scape goat with glee. Why is Edwards being strung up? Didn’t pay the piper? I mean WTF!

    BUT drone murder innocent people, waterboard, torture, punish whistleblowers and the government crime bosses all skate for life. Protecting American, my ass.

    Jonthan – Obama is your cime boss, because he is bloody damn sure NOT mine. Time for another Canada vacation yet?

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

  12. I acknowledge that I have not followed this case in great detail but I am learning for the first time that Young took a big chunk of the money donated to John Edwards (by Bunny Mellon, for one) and used it to build himself a $1.5 million home. I would certainly think that says something negative about Young’s character (or lack thereof) and should affect how the jurors deal with Young’s testimony.

    Just for the record, while I do NOT defend John Edwards’ behavior in any way, I do think Andrew Young is a bit of a creep.

  13. It is the right of Confrontation with a big C. If one cannot cross examine a witness, face to face, in open court, so that the jury can determine the witnesses credibility then the court has erred. If the witness is having sex with another witness at one time during the events in question then it is an aspect of the credibility of both witnesses. Was the sex act itself a form of renumeration for silence, testimony of a such an such nature in the future, etc. A one night stand is putting it mildly. I would offer in my offer of proof that it was porking for profit.

  14. Gives new meaning to a den of snakes.

    Power corrupts, even when it is in the form of money.

    Ask the 1% and they will deny that reality, because they are a tight knit corrupt meme complex.

  15. Should the one-night stand have been excluded?

    Hell no. I can understand not allowing prior actions (like prior arrests or convictions) that have nothing to do with the case at hand; but an action with another witness? Come on, the jury isn’t made of children, they need to be able to sort that relationship out, and it can obviously color the compound testimony (and should).

    If me and my wife were to both testify against our neighbor, it would obviously be relevant to the jury that we might, conceivably, be teaming up against her. The fact that we are married and not two different neighbors would be very relevant.

    The same thing goes here, if Young has an intimate relationship with another witness, they may be in cahoots to deflect attention away from their own culpability and pin it on Edwards.

Comments are closed.