The Justice Department announced Wednesday that it will not retry John Edwards. That ends a prosecution that seemed driven more by political than legal considerations. After spending years and millions of dollars, the Public Integrity Section accomplished nothing except to raise questions about its own priorities and function. It is not uncommon for prosecutors to yield to the temptation of bringing charges against high-profile defendants. However, the Justice Department stretched the campaign finance laws to the breaking point on this case. It seems intent on satisfying the public anger toward Edwards for his adultery and betrayal.
The Justice Department filed for an “order for dismissal” on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in North Carolina to dismiss the remaining five counts against Edwards on which the jury had been deadlocked. Edwards was already found not guilty on one other count. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer insisted that the government decided not to retry Edwards “in the interest of justice.” He added “We knew that this case — like all campaign finance cases — would be challenging . . . I am proud of the skilled and professional way in which our prosecutors … conducted this trial.” I fail to see the interest in justice is pursuing a salacious, media-driven prosecution and then trying the case by introducing every possible prejudicial fact detailing the affair of Edwards and his mistress. It takes a great deal to win a defense case in a criminal trial. The jury starts out with a great presumption against a defendant. In this case, that presumption was magnified by the prejudicial details paraded before the jury by the prosecutors. Yet, the Justice Department still could not land a single count of conviction for good reason. This was a cad not a criminal.
The only truth that came out of the wasteful and unnecessary trial is that Edwards and Rielle Hunter truly deserve each other as two of the most narcissistic and creepy people on Earth. However, the Justice Department comes out of the trial with the most tarnished reputation for yielding to the allure of a high-profile trial at the cost of due process.