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Life in the US of A

If I can cover Saddam’s trial, then why not John Edwards?

I guess if I can cover Saddam Hussein’s trial then I can certainly cover the trial of . . . (fill in the blank). Either that, or I was the first reporter my boss saw when he needed to send someone to Greensboro, North Carolina to cover felony trial of one-time US presidential candidate John Edwards.

Once the best-coiffed pol on Capitol Hill, Edwards cheated on his cancer-stricken wife and then took money from wealthy friends to cover up the affair. As seamy as the case may sound, the trial focused on the technicalities of campaign finance regulations. Did Edwards take the money as a campaign contribution, then used it for non-campaign expenses?

The best part of the assignment was driving to Chapel Hill, where Edwards lives and went to college, to see what the locals thought of their fallen hero. (See DreamsOfGlory-JEdwards).

My task in Greensboro was to cover the opening day of the trial and contact a stringer  — a local reporter, in this case Robert Lopez of the Greensboro News-Record — who could file stories on any dramatic developments and cover the final days in court. Robert did a great job for us.

Despite a handful of seamy revelations, daily events in the courtroom were extraordinarily dull. My colleagues who were in courtroom told me that the jurors were caught nodding off more than once.

When the trial ended on May 31 Edwards was found not guilty on one of the six felony charges he faced. Jurors declared a mistrial on the remaining charges, and since the Feds said they won’t ask for a retrial, Edwards is off the hook. Unclear however if he has plans for a political comeback.


About Carlos Hamann

Washington D.C.-based writer and editor


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