Lawyers for John Edwards' former mistress have filed a motion charging contempt of court against a former campaign aide and his wife, saying the couple provided off-limits information to federal prosecutors pursuing criminal charges against Edwards.
Citing a hearing in a Greensboro courtroom last week in a separate criminal case involving Edwards, Hunter's lawyers contend that Andrew and Cheri Young or their legal team have turned over thousands of pages of material from her lawsuit against them. Further, they say Hunter was never notified of the disclosures.
"The Youngs' and their counsel's secret exchanges with the government violate this court's orders," says the motion, which was filed Wednesday in Hillsborough.
In North Carolina, being cited for criminal contempt of court can incur a range of penalties from censure to a $500 fine to 30 days in jail.
Joni Mixon, a legal assistant at the firm representing the Youngs in the civil case, said Thursday the team had yet to review the motion filed by Alan Duncan, Hunter's attorney.
"Defendants and their counsel showed contempt of this court because the court had emphatically warned them to strictly comply with its orders, and they repeatedly assured the court that they had and were continuing to comply," Hunter's motion reads.
James Cooney, one of Edwards' lawyers, said during a hearing in the criminal case last week that about 10,000 documents from the civil case had been handed over to prosecutors, including a lengthy deposition Edwards gave in February in the civil lawsuit. The civil case stems from Hunter's allegations that the Youngs have personal items that belong to her. The items include a purported sex tape featuring Edwards.
The motion underlines the difficulties faced by lawyers and courts as the criminal and civil cases go on at the same time.
The two are separate matters, but have overlapping casts of characters that make it hard to keep them entirely distinct. The substance of the criminal charges against Edwards are that he violated federal campaign finance laws in order to keep his affair with Hunter and the subsequent birth of their child a secret.
Young is one of the defendants in the civil lawsuit, and is also expected to be a key prosecution witness in the criminal case.
Andrew Young has said he helped cover up the affair between Edwards and Hunter during the 2008 presidential campaign, and worked to hide Hunter for months.
Edwards has admitted to the affair and fathering Hunter's child. She worked as a videographer in 2006 for Edwards' political action committee.
Federal prosecutors say the former vice-presidential nominee took contributions far in excess of the legal limit to help conceal the affair, and then worked to cover that activity up by filing false campaign finance reports. Edwards has pleaded not guilty to all six charges.
Associated Press writer Tom Breen contributed to this report from Raleigh.