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Edwards case goes before federal judge in late October

RALEIGH — A federal judge will hear arguments later this month on whether the criminal case against John Edwards should be dismissed or move toward trial.

In a court document filed this week, federal court officials set a hearing for Oct. 26.

Edwards, 58, is accused of violating campaign finance laws by secretly obtaining and using contributions from two wealthy supporters to hide his pregnant mistress from the public during his 2008 presidential run.

The payments covered living, medical and other expenses for Rielle Hunter, a videographer with whom Edwards had an extramarital affair and a child. Prosecutors argue the donations exceeded legal limits and were campaign contributions because they were meant to hide the affair so Edwards could keep his presidential bid alive.

Defense attorneys argue that Edwards was trying to hide the affair and pregnancy from his wife, that the hundreds of thousands of dollars that went from his wealthy friends to others, not him, were gifts.

In hundreds of pages of documents filed in September, defense attorneys sought dismissal of the case, arguing that charges against Edwards are unconstitutionally vague, that no crime occurred and even if one had, the government did not give him a "fair warning" that his conduct would violate campaign finance laws.

The lawyers also described the case as an abuse of prosecutorial discretion, more about politics and furthering the political ambitions of the lead prosecutor in North Carolina's eastern district.

The prosecutor, former U.S. Attorney George Holding, has announced plans to run for Congress as a Republican in 2012. A George W. Bush appointee, he was replaced by President Barack Obama once the Edwards investigation concluded.

In response to the defense's claims, prosecutors filed hundreds of pages of court documents disputing allegations of prosecutorial power abuse and inadequacies with the case.

Prosecutors argue that career prosecutors were behind the investigation and that it should be up to a jury to decide whether a crime occurred.

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