As jury deliberations enter their third day in former presidential candidate John Edwards’s political corruption trial in Greensboro, N.C., the U.S. Department of Justice has a lot riding on his case, too, says the Raleigh News & Observer. Justice’s public-integrity section has been under scrutiny since the bungled 2008 case against former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK).
Since the Stevens case, the unit has a new chief, former New York-based federal prosecutor Jack Smith. The Justice Department also has ordered training to make sure prosecutors disclose key evidence to defense attorneys. Kieran Shanahan, a former federal prosecutor who sat through the trial, said Edwards – if convicted – would likely receive a concurrent sentence and serve no more than five years. Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University and co-author of “The Prosecution and Defense of Public Corruption,” said a not-guilty verdict would be “a black eye” for the Justice Department. “It would call into question their decision even to pursue the case,” Henning added.