Jury selection begans Thursday in a Greensboro federal courtroom in the trial of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.
Edwards is charged with 6 felony and misdemeanor counts related to the money dealings of his failed 2008 presidential campaign.
Rielle Hunter, Edwards’ former mistress, is expected to testify at the trial. A major issue in the approaching trial is whether money given to support Hunter, by the former candidate’s benefactors, should have been considered donations toward his presidential campaign. Edwards denies any wrongdoing, claiming the money was a gift.
Edwards is accused of conspiracy, issuing false statements and violating campaign contribution laws. If convicted on all counts, Edwards could face 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1.5 million.
John Edwards sat at the defense table as about 100 potential jurors filed into the courtroom. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Eagles then asked Edwards to stand and face them. He smiled and nodded as the judge introduced him.
“This is not a case about whether Mr. Edwards was a good husband or politician,” the judge said from the bench. “It’s about whether he violated campaign finance laws.”
Judge Eagles emphasized the potential jurors’ important role in the upcoming trial and ordered them not to tell anyone, not even their families, that they had been called for the Edwards case. She also advised them to put out of their minds any media coverage they had seen and to ignore any legal dramas they might have seen on television, because such shows may mischaracterize the law or how a courtroom operates.
“You can watch Law & Order, Judge Judy, John Grisham; put it out of your mind,” Judge Eagles said. “I will tell you what the law is.”
By next week, the large jury pool is expected to be 12 jurors and at least 4 alternates.
Opening arguments are scheduled to begin April 22.