Hung Jury in the Edwards case?

So, a local news station has decided they are going to have a 30 minute live special the evening John Edwards’ verdict comes in and yours truly will be the political “expert.”  I’ve been mentally mulling over potential lines of commentary for days, and I’ve definitely been ready for the hung jury verdict.  As a matter of law, I really don’t think he’s guilty and I don’t think it’s particularly close.  Please, the FEC has not even accused him of a violation.  However, I also think the matter is grey enough that surely at least some of the jurors will be happy enough to punish him for being such a complete cad (which, apparently, was a main focus of the prosecution’s case).  Anyway, since the jury has been out since Friday, there’s increasing speculation that we may be seeing a hung jury:

“It’s starting feel a little more like a marathon than a sprint,” said Raleigh lawyer Kieran Shanahan, a former federal prosecutor who attended most of the trial. “Either they’re the most thorough, meticulous, I’m-going-to-look-at-every-document jurors ever to come down the pike, or there’s a little bit of dissension among the group.”

Shanahan said the details of Edwards’ affair with Hunter and their illegitimate child might be clouding the campaign finance issue for some jurors.

“There was much more (testimony) about the salacious details of the affair, and in particular of lying to cover up the affair. It’s just sort of hard for an average person to think about John Edwards and not think about those things,” he said. “When they did start to talk about campaign finance law (during the trial), it almost put you to sleep. It’s just like looking at a tax return.”

Then again, maybe a hung jury just makes a nice story hook:

Federal court juries have deliberated for weeks in other high-profile cases, Shanahan said, so it’s too early to “push the panic button” over a hung jury in the Edwards case.

Still, if I were a betting man (and I would be if not for my wife’s objections) and bet on the hung jury.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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