John Edwards’s trial

On May 15, 2012, I wrote about the John Edwards trial, predicting that he'd walk. Yesterday he did. One acquittal and five mistrials, after all the government’s evidence, doesn’t warrant another try.

The prosecution COULD retry Edwards, but it won't. The applicable elections law is unclear. The government's unprecedented case was based on a questionable key witness, Edwards's unappealingly sycophantic ex-assistant, who has made a career of soiling the name of his former employer. Mostly, prosecutors know that retrying a case is "like kissing your sister,” as I was told when I proposed doing so in a celebrated trial in the Kennedy Justice Department. The defense knows your case; the juice of surprise is gone; it is the opposite of the original trial, where the deck is stacked for the prosecution.

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The costs of retrial will be significant, and the public is probably fed up with the tabloid-filled fall from grace of this unappealing, now battered former politician. Jurors reportedly are on their way to television talk shows to explain their views of the case, adding to the unlikelihood of a second try by the Justice Department, which has suffered high-visibility losses and can’t afford another.

A relieved Edwards told reporters after the verdict: “I don’t think God is through with me.” The public and Justice Department ought to be.