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Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Edwards case: Adultery may be a sin but it’s not a crime

John Edwards, second from left, speaks outside a federal courthouse as his daughter Cate Edwards, left, and parents Wallace Edwards, second from right, and Bobbie Edwards, right, look on after the jury's verdict. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Legal analysts told Capitol Hill Blue before the trial against John Edwards began in North Carolina last month the case against the former Senator and Presidential candidate was doomed.

While they agreed that Edwards’ actions of screwing around on his wife and spending contributions to keep his pregnant mistress under wraps was despicable at best, it wasn’t illegal and the Justice Department — which has a lousy record when it comes to prosecuting complex cases — couldn’t convince a jury to convict.

After nine days of deliberations, the jury proved the predictions correct.  They acquitted Edwards of one count and deadlocked on the others, leading to a mistrial.

Even Meanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington, said all the feds could do was “offer up salacious details to prove that Edwards is, indeed, despicable but were not enough to persuade the jury to convict him.”

So what did the government accomplish?

Nothing in the cause of justice.  The Justice Department spent millions trying to build a hopeless case against a man who cheated on his wife and tried to hide the affair.

The feds couldn’t prove that those who gave the money used for payments to Edwards’ paramour intended the funds to be used for campaign purposes.  They couldn’t prove Edwards knew of or approved the arrangement.  They couldn’t even agree on what law — if any — was broken.

All they showed was that Edwards was an immoral man and if immorality could land politicians in jail, the halls of Congress, most state legislatures and a lot of city council chambers would be empty and we would have to build a lot more jails.

Said Edwards after the bungled trial:

I want to make sure everyone hears from me. While I do not believe I did anything illegal, or ever thought that I was doing anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong.

There is no one else responsible for my sins. I am responsible–none of the people who came to court and testified are responsible, nobody working for the government is responsible. I am responsible. It is me and me alone.

That pretty well wraps it up. Adultery may be a sin in religious circles but is not a crime in legal ones.

Hell, for many elected officials it’s a way of life.

Copyright © 2012 Capitol Hill Blue


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5 thoughts on “The Edwards case: Adultery may be a sin but it’s not a crime”

  1. A quote from the article: “So what did the government accomplish?

    Nothing in the cause of justice. The Justice Department spent millions trying to build a hopeless case against a man who cheated on his wife and tried to hide the affair.”

    Well, if nothing else, the “Justice Department” has ensured that that this fellow would not be a challenger to president Obama this go-around, so at least something has been accomplished by what is basically a very political department.

    As to the Department’s competence in winning cases, it does not hurt to keep in mind that lawyers joining that government agency are probably not the sharpest knifes in the draw to begin with. The BS about being there to engage in public service may be a nice mask, but I suspect they are there because no one else will hire them or they are there to manipulate the system to serve a political end that has nothing to do with enforcing law and certainly nothing to do with ‘justice’. Funny stuff. 🙂

    • I remember a small news story from way back in the Nixon administration where Nixon told his Justice Department not to hire law-school graduates in the top third of their class because “those fellows are always against us.” (That may be paraphrased a tad, but is essentially Nixon’s position.) Apparently you are saying that hiring practice has continued. I can see why those top-thirders may not find it attractive to serve under such low-IQers as Ronald Reagan and the two Bushes.

      I also find it frustrating that Congress has its collective dander in a rage because a few Secret Service employees enjoyed the company of Latin American hookers while that is a fine activity for a Louisiana senator and other right-wing horn dogs.

  2. This case, begun by a gung-ho US Attorney in the latest Bush administration, should have been seen for what it was, a blatant tarring of the opposition using salacious details of acts that are mean toward a spouse, nasty towards one’s family, and often offensive to morals, but not illegal under our laws.

    Sure, the ecclesiastical crimes are always the most fun, in prosecution and participation (depending on one’s standards), yet largely remain off the books of secular laws for a reason. We like to keep our preachers and inquisitors in their church buildings while police, lawyers and judges operate in other structures.

    The Edwards case was an illustration of attempting regulation of behavior where the legal standard is Biblical rather than under reality based US statute and regulations. John Edwards is now fully tarred, feathered and marked for life with a rather large A vying for space in captions under his photo. Welcome to the Hester Prynne club Mr. Edwards. Now, let’s put those judicial resources to work prosecuting real crimes, starting with the target rich banker class. There have been sufficient admissions on PBS alone to keep prosecutors busy for decades.

  3. What a stupid waste of taxpayer’s money! The fact that the FEC reviewed the whole thing long ago, and determined that the money was never a campaign contribution, should have stopped any prosecution before it started.

    Some federal prosecutor heads should roll for this.

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