Judge gives Edwards stay in case involving sex tapes

For Judge Carl Fox, the decision to allow John Edwards to be relieved from further questioning in a case involving ownership of sex tapes of him and Rielle Hunter was one he had to make.

“As much as I don’t like the idea of staying, I think it’s absolutely necessary in the interest of justice,” Fox said in a Wake County courtroom Thursday morning.

Jim Cooney, one of the lawyers representing Edwards, argued at the hearing that requiring Edwards to continue with his deposition in the case against his former aide Andrew Young and Young’s wife Cheri after his June 3 indictment could cause Edwards to incriminate himself in the federal case against him.

The indictment against Edwards contains allegations that he broke campaign finance laws while trying to cover up his extramarital affair with Hunter, his former campaign videographer and also the mother of one of his children.

During Edwards’ original six-hour deposition in February, Cooney said Edwards was asked more than 2,000 questions and answered all but about 70 of them.

“In short, he answered every question that was directly relevant,” he said.

While Cooney said the federal case against Edwards was originally slated to go to trial in early July, he said he anticipates that a trial for the six felony charges against Edwards — each of which could carry a five year prison sentence — will occur no earlier than the end of October but most likely in January or February.

“Some of the federal cases reminded me of (the television show) Law and Order,” Fox said. “They arrest one day and have trial the next day — gives the public an unrealistic view of how quickly a case can go to trial.”

David Pishko, who represents the Youngs, said the entire situation could have been avoided had Edwards answered all the questions at the original deposition.

“His participation may be ended once we’ve finished this deposition,” he said. “We just need to get over that hump so we can get our case ready for trial.”

Fox said that Andrew Young, who was identified but not named in Edwards’ indictment, could seek a similar motion depending on how the federal investigation pans out.

Before the hearing ended, Allison van Laningham, who represents Rielle Hunter, responded to a comment on the safety of the sex tapes in court possession.

“Ms. Hunter’s privacy interests are what is sought to be vindicated here,” she said. “The discovery process is not presumptively open.”

Contact the City Editor at city@dailytarheel.com.

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