John Edwards campaign finance trial delayed

AP News
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Posted: Sep 08, 2011 2:49 PM
John Edwards campaign finance trial delayed

Ex-presidential candidate John Edwards' trial on campaign finance charges has been delayed until January, giving his defense team time it says it needs to comb through more than 400,000 pages of material turned over by the government.

The former North Carolina senator was charged in June with using about $1 million in under-the-table payments from political supporters to hide his pregnant mistress Rielle Hunter during his 2008 run. He's also charged with helping to falsify campaign finance reports to cover up the payments. He has pleaded not guilty.

In a motion filed last month, the former two-time Democratic presidential candidate's lawyers said the trial's scheduled October start wouldn't give them enough time to study the documents. They said they also must talk with 125 witnesses who were interviewed by 50 different agents with the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.

An order signed Wednesday by U.S. Chief District Judge James A. Beaty Jr. in Winston-Salem, N.C., granted the defense motion and said federal prosecutors agreed to a "reasonable" delay.

"The Court concludes that a continuance is necessary in order to ensure Defendant adequate time for preparation for trial, given the circumstances in this case, particularly the unusually large volume of discovery to be reviewed," Beaty wrote.

The judge added that the three-month delay should be sufficient time for the defense to prepare and that no further continuance should be necessary.

Jim Cooney, one of Edwards' lawyers, declined to comment on the delay. A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh also declined to comment.

In its delay motion, the defense also mentioned that Edwards' oldest daughter, Cate Edwards, is getting married in October. She plans to take a two-week honeymoon and would be unable to care for her 11-year-old and 13-year-old siblings while their father faces trial.

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