By MICHAEL BIESECKER
GREENSBORO, NC (AP) -- A federal judge denied on Thursday a bid by former presidential candidate John Edwards to have the criminal case against him thrown out, paving the way for a trial to begin in January.
US District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles said in Greensboro that the five motions to dismiss are being denied without prejudice, meaning Edwards's lawyers can use them at a later date. The former US senator is charged with using campaign funds to cover up an affair he had during his unsuccessful bid for the White House and then submitting false campaign finance reports to cover his tracks. He has pleaded not guilty.
Edwards was in the courtroom and displayed no visible reaction to the decision.
Edwards and his defense team argue that the federal government's case depends on a completely novel set of legal arguments that have never been validated by a court. But Eagles said it may be that the facts of his case are unique and untested.
The 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee had an affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter, eventually fathering a child. Prosecutors contend that Edwards used money from donors far in excess of legal campaign limits to keep the dalliance under wraps.
Much of the undisclosed money was funneled to Andrew Young, a close aide to Edwards who left the campaign and falsely claimed paternity of the senator's illegitimate child. Young and his wife invited the pregnant Hunter to live in their home near Chapel Hill and later traveled with her as tabloid reporters sought to expose the candidate's extramarital affair.
Edwards's lawyers argue that if the prosecution's case succeeds, it could theoretically mean that any money a candidate spends while running for office could be classified as a campaign expense, which they say would twist federal law completely out of shape.
The trial is scheduled to begin in January.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)