Edwards asks to delay October criminal trial date

AP News
Posted: Aug 24, 2011 9:43 PM
Edwards asks to delay October criminal trial date

Lawyers for former presidential hopeful John Edwards asked a judge on Wednesday to delay the scheduled October start of a trial on alleged campaign finance law violations, saying they can't prepare in just over a month because they have too much information to review.

Edwards, a former Democratic U.S. senator from North Carolina, has pleaded not guilty to six felony charges related to money that went to hide Rielle Hunter, a videographer who followed his 2008 presidential campaign and later became his mistress and the mother of his child. Prosecutors allege that Edwards accepted contributions far above the legal limit in order to hide his affair and helped in trying to cover up the payments by filing false campaign finance reports.

Federal prosecutors already have turned over more than 400,000 pages of documents that defense lawyers said will likely take more than 10,000 hours to review. Edwards' attorneys said they also must talk with 125 witnesses who were interviewed by 50 different agents with the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service. The defense lawyers also said a newly hired attorney needs time to prepare, according to the motion requesting a delay.

The defense also cited more personal reasons for its request. Edwards' oldest daughter Cate is getting married in October and taking a two-week honeymoon, meaning she couldn't take his 11-year-old and 13-year-old children to school and help with their care while he faces trial.

A judge set the October trial date at the request of prosecutors last month, saying the defense hadn't shown enough proof a speedy trial would violate Edwards' rights. District Court Judge Carlton Tilley also warned the lawyers repeatedly postponing the trial was not an option. However, a new judge will soon be assigned to the case and will ultimately decide when Edwards will be tried.

The defense will have to review hundreds of transactions between Edwards' campaign and former campaign staffer Andrew Young. Young once claimed to be the father of Hunter's child to protect his boss but now is working with the government. He is now considered hostile to Edwards, which makes the defense's investigation into the donations even harder, Edwards' lawyers said in their motion.

"It is impossible for defendant's counsel to prepare adequately or to provide constitutionally effective assistance of counsel in so short a period," the defense wrote.

Edwards ran for president in 2008 and 2004 and was the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee.