Edwards asks judge to dismiss charges

October 26, 2011 1:20:58 PM PDT
A North Carolina federal judge held a hearing Wednesday to listen to five motions filed by lawyers for John Edwards seeking the dismissal of the criminal case against the former presidential candidate.

Edwards' lawyers argued in motions filed last month that the judge should throw out all six felony and misdemeanor counts, alleging the case was sought by a partisan Republican prosecutor bent on taking down a big-name Democrat.

Prosecutors, in turn, filed a stack of motions ridiculing the arguments seeking dismissal as baseless and ignorant of the law.

During Wednesday morning's session, the defense said the indictment was "bare," and failed to define what type of election law crime was committed.

Edwards is accused of using about $1 million in undisclosed payments from campaign donors to cover up an affair during his 2008 White House bid. He has pleaded not guilty.

His attorneys said the money was a gift unrelated to campaign expenditures. They pointed out that legally, donors can help pay for a candidate's personal expenses unrelated to campaign. They also said money from donors never went directly to Edwards - it was handled through third parties.

However, the prosecution countered that if it was third party expenditure, Supreme Court rulings state that intent behind donations must be "unambiguously clear."

"Edwards isn't insulated from allegations because he didn't get his hands dirty - because they went to a third party," U.S. District Attorney David Harbach said.

They emphasized that campaign contribution limit per individual is $2,300 and that Edwards personally solicited the money.

For the case to be dismissed at this stage, the judge would have to decide no jury could find any reason donations would have helped the campaign. A trial is scheduled to begin in January.

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