John Edwards trial witness list long and varied

The list reads a bit like a Who’s Who from N.C. political and legal communities

ablythe@newsobserver.com April 14, 2012 

— The witness list for the John Edwards case reads a bit like a Who’s Who from North Carolina political and legal communities, including lawyers, campaign aides and big-time donors who could be called to testify at his trial.

There are the obvious.

• Andrew Young, the former aide who wrote the tell-all book about Edwards’ 2008 presidential bid, is on the prosecution’s list, as is his wife, Cheri.

• Rielle Hunter, the former campaign videographer at the heart of the case, could be called by either side.

• Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, the centenarian who provided hundreds of thousands of dollars for living expenses for Hunter, and Lisa Blue, the widow of Fred Baron, the wealthy Texas lawyer, who helped out, too, are on the government’s list.

Though many of the names on both lists were expected, some were not as obvious.

Julianna Smoot, deputy manager of President Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential re-election campaign and a former professional fundraiser for the Democratic party, is on the prosecution’s witness list.

High-profile North Carolina lawyers Joseph B. Cheshire V, Jim Cooney and Wade Smith are on Edwards’ list of possible witnesses.

Both Cooney and Smith represented Edwards for a time. Smith withdrew from Edwards’ team when it became clear he might be called as a witness to talk about a phone conversation he had with Alex Forger, Mellon’s lawyer.

Bryan Huffman, an interior decorator from western North Carolina who was involved in the transfer of money from Mellon, is listed as a potential witness for both the prosecution and defense.

Cate Edwards, the grown daughter of the former presidential candidate and one-term Democratic senator, could be called to testify on her father’s behalf.

Edwards’ former law partner David Kirby is on both lists. Josh Stein, a state senator from Raleigh and former campaign manager for Edwards’ senate run, is listed as a witness for the prosecution.

Jury selection began Thursday with about 200 potential jurors called to the federal courthouse in Greensboro to fill out questionnaires.

Opening statements are tentatively scheduled for April 23. The trial is expected to last a month and a half.

Blythe: 919-836-4948

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