Closing Arguments Expected In Edwards Trial

May 17, 2012

Closing arguments are scheduled to take place today at the John Edwards trial. The defense rested its case on Wednesday without putting the two-time presidential candidate, or former mistress Rielle Hunter on the witness stand.

Jeff Tiberii: Defense attorney Abbe Lowell glanced at his client took a deep break and said "on behalf of Mr. Edwards, we rest our case." Following nearly three weeks of sensational, contentious and personal testimony from government witnesses the defense concluded with an anti-climactic moment after using just two and a half days to present its case. Edwards' attorneys avoided emotional testimony, tried to turn the focus to campaign finance law and worked to discredit the government's key witness.

Hampton Dellinger: They got a witness to describe Andrew Young as dishonest.

Hampton Dellinger is a local Attorney observing the trial in court.

Dellinger: They got another witness to talk about how surprised Edwards seemed to be that he found out Bunny Mellon was giving hundreds of thousands of dollars; they got a little bit from the former FEC commissioner. So they made progress with every witness, but they didn't hit a home run.

The government has charged Edwards with six counts of campaign finance violations for allegedly orchestrating a cover-up of his mistress by using nearly a million dollars from two wealthy donors. At the center of this case are two key questions: just what is a campaign contribution, and did Edwards knowingly break the law. Former federal prosecutor Kieran Shanahan describes the legal components of this case as unprecedented and complex.

Kieran Shanahan: I think both sides kind of assumed that the jurors were an informed audience when it comes to campaign election laws and I'm not sure they've effectively communicated some of the key points in the case. So I'm a little worried about jury confusion.

The judge will instruct the jury on how to interpret campaign finance law when she reads more than 35 pages of instructions this afternoon. But before the jury begins weighing the case, the prosecution and defense each get an opportunity for closing arguments.