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US court looks at possible Edwards lawyer conflict

•  National News     updated  2012/03/15 09:15


A federal judge planned to hear Thursday whether former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards would create problems for his upcoming trial by hiring lawyers who represented his mistress in a lawsuit over the couple's alleged sex tape.

The hearing scheduled in Greensboro aims to air whether lawyers Alan Duncan and Allison Van Laningham could use insider knowledge of Edwards' mistress Rielle Hunter at the former presidential candidate's trial beginning next month.

Duncan and Van Laningham represented Hunter in a lawsuit that ended last month with a settlement that ordered all copies of the tape destroyed.

Federal prosecutors have said they'll likely call Hunter as a witness at Edwards' trial on campaign finance charges that he used nearly $1 million from two wealthy donors to hide the pregnant Hunter as he sought the White House in 2008. He has pleaded not guilty.

"To whom would Mr. Duncan's and Ms. Van Laningham's allegiance lie? Their new client or the one they represented as recently as two weeks ago in a lawsuit seeking to enforce those very privacy rights?" federal prosecutors said in a court filing last week.

Because of their previous attorney-client relationship with Hunter, Duncan and Van Laningham might take it easy on her if they were questioning Hunter under oath, prosecutors said.


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