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Wade Smith Steps Off of John Edwards Case
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Wade Smith, a lawyer from Raleigh, N.C. who is know by many in his home state by the nickname the dean of the defense bar, has released himself from a the criminal case involving John Edward. While his step down comes after the state prosecutors raised questions about a conversation that Mr. Smith has with Alex Forger in 2009 it is entirely voluntary. For those of you not familiar with the case Alex Forger is a New York-based lawyer who had been acting in an advising capacity to Bunny Mellon, who is one of the key figures in the case. Since this discussion means that Mr. Smith could potentially be called ad a witness in the upcoming trial this was the smart move.

This case has the potential to put a serious test on federal campaign finance laws. Mr. Edwards is accused of committing a violation of those federal campaign finance laws when he used monies obtained from Bunny Mellon and another as yet named campaign contributor in order to hide the news of his pregnant mistress from the public eye during his presidential run in 2008.

  
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While that would clearly be illegal the question becomes, was the money really used improperly, and was it actually a campaign contribution. The prosecution is arguing that it is. The money was used to cover the living expenses and pay for the medical needs of one Rielle Hunter. Ms. Hunter is a videographer with whom Mr. Edwards had an affair. The prosecutors are also arguing that the donations were intended to be part of campaign contributions, since the donations were made with a mind to helping Mr. Edwards stay in the race to become president. They also claim that these dollars exceeded legal limits on the maximum amount of donation allowed.

On the opposite side Mr. Edwards says that he did not break the law. His defense attorneys are putting forth the position these steps were taken to help Mr. Edwards hide the affair from his wife and family only. They also assert that since the funds were given to other people, instead of to Mr. Edwards himself, that they should simply be considered private gifts from his wealthy friends.

The total amount of these alleged gifts made is about $900,000. While this does seem high for nine months of living and medical expenses neither side seems to be disputing exactly what the cash was being used for, or how much of it was used for those purposes.

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The conversation that Mr. Smith had with Bunny Mellon’s attorney in 2009 was regarding the fact that Mellon’s attorney the payments could have been beneficial to Edwards. At this time Mr. Smith has chosen not to make any comment on the conversation or the rest of the trial. Since a trial lawyer cannot also be a trail witness Mr. Smith left the defense team. Currently the team is working on an argument for an Oct. 26 hearing. At that hearing a federal judge will decide if the case can be thrown out before trial.

The case that is scheduled for trial in January of 2012.





 

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