For Edwards, life got worse. After testimony from a cast of former staffers, including Hunter, Mellon and Young, who had published a scandalous tell all-book, a grand jury indicted him on June 3, 2011.
Edwards was indicted on six charges: one count of conspiracy, four counts of illegal campaign contributions and one count of making false statements. Each offense is punishable to up to five years in prison and fines, totaling up to 30 years in prison.
At the heart of the government's case is campaign finance law, specifically whether Edwards violated the Election Act. Established in 1971, the Election Act states that to restrict the influence that any one person can have on the outcome of a primary election for president, the most any individual could contribute to any candidate for that primary election is $2,300.
Prosecutors will argue that Edwards accepted and received contributions from Mellon and Baron in excess of the limits of the Election Act. Court documents detail that Edwards accepted about $725,000 from Mellon and more than $200,000 from Baron. These unlawful contributions were then used to pay for Hunter's living and medical expenses and to pay for travel and accommodations to keep Hunter from the news media.
Additionally, prosecutors say Edwards concealed from the FEC and the public the contributions by filing false and misleading campaign finance reports.
Court documents conclude, "Edwards knew that public revelation of the affair and pregnancy would destroy his candidacy and undermine Edwards' presentation of himself as a family man and by forcing his campaign to divert personnel and resources away from other campaign activities to respond to the criticism and the media scrutiny regarding the affair."
Edwards' defense is that the money he received from Mellon and Baron was for personal reasons, most importantly to protect his wife who was dying, and to protect his family. He contends that at no point throughout the ordeal did he ever think he was breaking the law.
Experts say the government has an uphill battle. This type of case is considered unprecedented in the arena of campaign finance, as there are many loopholes in the law.
After shuffling his legal team a few times, Edwards is represented by high profile attorney Abbe Lowell. Two additional lawyers from North Carolina will assist Lowell.
The trial is proceeding because Edwards refused a plea bargain that would have given him a few months in prison but would have allowed him to keep his law license.
U.S. District Court Attorney Catherine Eagles has selected 42 potential jurors. The first bit of business on Monday will be the final seating of 12 jurors and four alternates. After that, the trial will begin with opening arguments. It is expected to last anywhere from two to six weeks.