31 May 2012

John Edwards Trial: Free At Last! Edwards Wins New Life

From Denny:  After nine days of deliberations, the jury found John Edwards not guilty on the central count, count three.  The jury found Edwards not guilty of receiving illegal campaign contributions.

There is no verdict on the other five counts because the 12-person jury could not come to a unanimous decision as is required under federal criminal law.  So, the judge was forced to declare a mistrial.

What was interesting today is how the judge received a note from the jury of the acquittal on one count, though she did not announce which way the verdict went.  Instead, she and the prosecutors insisted that the jury go back and reconsider changing their positions and keep working on all the counts.  Did the judge not like the acquittal on the one count and wanted the jury to change it?

The jury sent a second note about an hour later with the fact they were deadlocked for a unanimous decision on the remaining five counts under consideration.  Read that as a frustrated jury saying, "Screw you, judge, we're done and are going home."

The Edwards' lawyers asked for a mistrial and the announcement of the verdict on the one count.  Abbe Lowell could smell success coming his way - and it did. The prosecutors argued for letting the jury continue.  According to legal analysts, the longer a jury is out the better it is for the defense.

After all, if you have been following any of this prosecution's salacious circus you would have noticed the government never could tell the jury exactly when any of the crimes happened, could not nail down exactly where it happened - especially if it was in the Middle District of North Carolina where this court has jurisdiction, or even who exactly was involved in any of it.

What this prosecution did was the equivalent of trying a 150-year-old case of whether Jesse James stole the money.  The key witnesses were dead or unavailable, but hey, put the dirty skunk in jail for the rest of his life because we all hate him.  If anyone should be railroaded out of town it's the prosecutors and this judge.

What's a mistrial mean for future prosecution?  It's possible for the DOJ to bring yet another idiot trial against Edwards on the five counts where the jury was not unanimous.  The problem with that is the one count upon which he was acquitted is the central crux of their argument.  That count was about receiving contributions from 101-year-old Rachel "Bunny" Mellon in excess of federal limits that existed in 2008.  Mellon's lawyer testified that Mellon expressly said the donated money was for Edwards' personal issues and not to be used as a campaign donation.  End of story.

This trial was a stretch, so much so that 56 prosecutors at the DOJ refused to prosecute it.  Yeah, that's how much that Republican shopped it until he could find a couple of lower-tiered attorneys hungry to move up the ladder at the DOJ.

The 56 prosecutors who passed on the case knew it was too convoluted for a jury to wrap their heads around, a political witch hunt and were smart enough to steer away from it.  As predicted by most legal analysts, this case did blow up in the government's face.  Expect those prosecutors to no longer be in good graces with the "powers that be" at the DOJ.

I suppose after some time we will hear how they were re-posted to - the attorney equivalent of hell - like some remote place of no man's land like Siberia or up near the Arctic Circle in Alaska.  They were flunkies anyway because the best prosecutors knew this was a political witch hunt and a career ender.  Well, be careful about being too ambitious and "wanting to make a name for yourself" it just might bite you on the butt.  Just ask Edwards who learned the same hard lesson.  The difference between these prosecutors and Edwards is that Edwards finally gets it.

Interestingly enough, with the Superpacs now in operation for politics, the same Edwards donors could have done all this legally today.  So, to attempt to bring this case against Edwards a second time serves no public interest. This case was begun under a Republican administration, not stopped by the Obama administration.  If Obama attempts to bring a second trial it sure will not look good in a tense election year and just add fodder for the Republicans to win back the presidency.

It does make a person wonder how there was enough money to fritter away on this unnecessary Edwards trial when the DOJ is busy closing hundreds of courthouses across America to save money.  Just how much did this witch hunt cost the American people?

If you think I'm tough on the DOJ just check out what the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit watchdog group, had to say.  They blamed the Department of Justice for launching this idiot losing case against Edwards.
From Executive Director Melanie Sloan:  "Today’s verdict in the trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards isn’t just a black eye for the Department of Justice (DOJ), it’s a knockout punch for the once vaunted Public Integrity Section.  As noted by nearly every campaign finance lawyer who considered the matter, this was a lousy case. All the salacious details prosecutors offered up to prove that Edwards is, indeed, despicable, were not enough to persuade the jury to convict him."
Sloan slammed them yet again, stating, "You’d think DOJ would recognize there are more pressing issues confronting our nation than whether Roger Clemens took steroids and John Edwards hid his mistress, but maybe not.  DOJ should apologize to the American people for wasting scarce taxpayer dollars and focus resources on serious matters like the widespread mortgage fraud or the financial crisis that harmed millions of Americans."
Several disturbing points this case brought to the surface:

1 - an obviously biased judge who sent everything the prosecutors' way when it came to evidence in or out, testimony in or out - all leveraged against Edwards - and even lowered the standards for the jury to easily find Edwards guilty.  Judge Catherine Eagles basically telegraphed to the jury to find Edwards guilty any way you can and "I'll give you cover" in her outrageous 45-page "jury instructions."  She also violated a number of areas of the federal judges' code of conduct that, if investigated, could unseat her as so many others since 2008 who were removed from office.

Judge Eagles' often flippant comments, enjoying her new found national celebrity and joking about Edwards in court was inappropriate at best.  She was not the model of judicial decorum.  She waved around a note from the jury, saying, "The jury sent me a note saying they have reached a… good stopping point for the day," the judge said Tuesday, 22 May.  For added drama she invoked The Pregnant Pause before she told the courtroom the truth.

The reaction in the gallery to her flippant statement?  Peals of laughter from the court staff, the judge and the prosecutors.  The judge rolled her eyes and said, "So, they want to go home for the day."

Edwards' lawyer, Abbe Lowell buried his face in his hands at this callous disregard for a man on trial for his life.  The whole courtroom of reporters, the judge, the court staff and the prosecutors looked like a scene from hell of Depraved Indifference.  Talk about sick.  Guess the judge finally realized how bad it looked and offered an anemic insincere "apology,"  admitting, "It was kind of mean. I’m sorry."  Kinda?

And this is the federal judge you want in charge of your "impartial fair" trial?

2 - the ferocity of this persecution/prosecution was very disturbing.  It hinged on flimsy "evidence" and truck loads of sex saturated wording in The Indictment that read like a porn novel to a parade of disgusting and far more despicable "witnesses" who were really the crooks in this drama and were most  unappealing to the jury at the trial.  The whole situation was steeped in vicious, all aimed at creating an atmosphere of hate for John Edwards.  They might as well as have declared Hate John Edwards Day.  This tactic was not worthy of what the American public expects of their DOJ.  Try the case on its merits in a professional way.

3 - the level of national public scorn.  The drum beat from the political war rooms popping up to condemn John Edwards on every news story in the media whole heartedly involved in the feeding frenzy was disturbing and bizarre.  The level of national public scorn is so out of proportion for this guy that it reeks of political agendas.  After all, the Republicans lost Senator Ted Kennedy as their national whipping boy when he died a couple of years ago.

Now the Republicans have moved on to Senator John Edwards as the new guy running the public gauntlet and they have been whipping him for years on just one incident.  The Republicans keep treating John Edwards like he is some VooDoo Doll they can push pins into and make him scream in pain.  This is a sick attitude and behavior far worse than what Edwards has done.  It looks like they plan to do it for the rest of his life.  And the Republicans all lay claim to following Jesus Christ?  Yeah?  They sure are fooling themselves because they miss the core teachings of forgiveness and redemption.

4 - a pack of reporters complaining about their discomfort in a waiting room that smelled really bad.  These reporters and producers sat there day after day, whining about how they were not comfortable and wanted this to be finished.  What stunk in that room were their bad attitudes and lazy reporting.

Day after day while these reporters fussed about their comfort a man was on trial for his life.  It was obvious few of them sure did not get it how serious was this situation.  They were flippant and cavalier in their remarks as well as a lack of real investigative reporting.

These reporters complained about so much time on their hands - then why were they not researching so many of the red flags being raised by this judge and the prosecutors?  No one talked about the judge's misconduct and clear prejudice against Edwards.  No one cared.  But that is just the point.  One day it could be you in that docket and let's see how cavalier you will be then.

Why were no reporters going to the court records to determine the following?

* how many cases have those same prosecutors brought in this judge's court?
* if so, how many of those cases resulted in mistrials or convictions?
* how many cases in this judge's court were mistrials or convictions if they did not involve these same prosecutors?
* was there a pattern of judicial misconduct and/or a violation of code of conduct in any of these other cases?
* was there any prosecutorial misconduct in any of the other trials in this judge's court?

This particular trial brought a lot of questions in need of answering.  When you witness something as vile as what the prosecutors and this judge did in this case it tells you one thing is for sure:  They have done it many times.  This is not their first rodeo.

What former Senator John Edwards had to say after the trial today:

Looking notably relieved and a bit physically frail like his elderly father, John Edwards made a brief statement to the press, though he did not take questions.  It was clear everyone involved was emotionally and physically exhausted, including the jury that was hurried out to their cars like an escaping herd.

Edwards thanked the jury for their "hard work and their diligence," complimenting them for being so conscientious in regard to their deliberations.  Understandably, he was grateful for the support of his parents,  children and friends who stood by him during this ordeal.

For a man who is sociable and likes to talk the past year of remaining silent before the trial began must have been a difficult discipline to hold.  Edwards was in the unenviable position of not being able to get his story out because if he did he looked bad, if he didn't he looked bad.

Edwards did want to make it clear, and not from second hand sources, about his clear understanding of how he caused a lot of suffering for his family.

Not waiting until days later or on some special TV interview he made it plain on the courthouse steps, offering his confession of moral lapse, "I want to make sure that everyone hears from me and from my voice.  I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong and there is no one else responsible for my sins. No one who came into court and testified is responsible…I am responsible…if I want to find the person accountable for my sins, all I have to do is look in the mirror."

Edwards also offered a way forward for himself.  He desires to dedicate his life to helping children in poverty here in America and abroad.  He said, "God is not finished with me yet and there is still a lot of good I can do."
Edwards' mother, Bobbie, smiled quietly and said, "We prayed for this (acquittal) and God answered our prayers."

John Edwards, you are now in possession of a fresh start.  I believe in forgiveness, goodwill, mercy and the transforming power of redemption.  Make your new life your masterpiece.

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