GREENSBORO — A federal court judge rejected efforts by John Edwards, the former presidential candidate facing criminal charges, to have his case thrown out before trial.
But Judge Catherine Eagles noted that some of the defense team's arguments had merit that would be better decided at trial.
Edwards spoke briefly with the media outside the federal courthouse in Greensboro.
A trial has been set for January.
"What's important now is that I now get my day in court, after all these years I finally get my day in court," Edwards said. "What I know with complete and absolute certainty is I did not violate any campaign laws."
In her rulings from the bench, Eagles said at this point in the legal proceedings she had to accept the prosecutors' allegations within "the four corners of the indictment."
But in rejecting the defense's efforts for dismissal point by point, she raised uncertainty about whether the incidents alleged occurred in the district where the charges were brought. She also questioned, as the defense did, how Edwards could aid and abet himself, as charged.
"I'm required to accept allegations as true," Eagles said. "These things are more appropriately evaluated at trial."
Eagles rejected outright that this was a case of prosecutorial misconduct, saying there was a lack of hard evidence of political motivation by former U.S. Attorney George Holding, the George W. Bush appointee who led the investigation.
Edwards, 58, is accused of violating campaign finance laws by secretly obtaining and using contributions from two wealthy supporters to hide his mistress and her pregnancy from the public during his unsuccessful bid for president in 2008.
The payments covered living, medical and other expenses for Rielle Hunter, a videographer with whom he had an extramarital affair and a daughter. Prosecutors argue the donations were campaign contributions meant to hide the affair so Edwards could keep his 2008 presidential bid alive. They also contend the contributions exceeded legal limits.
On Wednesday, defense attorneys argued for dismissal of the case, saying the charges were unconstitutionally vague, that no crime occurred and even if one had the government did not give the former candidate "fair warning" that his conduct would violate campaign finance laws.
They also described the case as one driven by a politically motivated prosecutor who pursued a criminal theory that if allowed to proceed to trial could turn campaign finance law on its head.
Defense argued the case was complex and a novel theory that even federal elections officers considered unusual.
"It could just be the facts are novel," Eagles said Thursday.
Abbe Lowell, a member of the defense team, said that though the outcome of his effort did not go the way the defense had hoped he was heartened by some of the judge's comments and questions. "It means this is just a beginning," Lowell said.
"What she did was she didn't just quite kick the can down the road," Lowell added. "She did put the can down the road, and that can has some dents in it."