Updated at 4:59 p.m.
White-collar defense bar veteran Abbe Lowell filed papers today to represent former presidential candidate John Edwards, who is facing charges in a North Carolina federal court for alleged violations of campaign finance laws.
Edwards' original legal team from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom has left the case, noting in filings with the court today that their representation was limited to Edwards' initial court appearances.
Lowell, a partner in Washington’s Chadbourne & Parke, filed today requesting pro hac vice admission (PDF) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. Lowell, who brings decades of experience of representing embattled politicians and other high-profile clients to the table, declined to comment when reached this afternoon.
As first reported this afternoon by NPR, Edwards' legal team from Skadden is no longer handling the case. The team, which featured former White House counsel Gregory Craig and former associate White House counsel Clifford Sloan, filed notice that they were no longer representing Edwards shortly after Lowell filed his request to join. Messages left with Skadden were not immediately returned.
The Skadden team, which also included associate David Foster, notes in the filings that they only “made a limited appearance … solely for purposes of the June 3, 2011, arraignment and initial appearance.” The notice (PDF) was not a formal withdrawal, given the temporary nature of their work on the case, but rather a waiver of receipt of any future filings.
Local counsel for Edwards includes Wade Smith of Raleigh, N.C.’s Tharrington Smith and James Cooney III of Charlotte, N.C.’s Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice. They also could not immediately be reached this afternoon.
Edwards was indicted in June.
As previously reported in the Legal Times, Edwards was charged with conspiracy, false statements and accepting illegal campaign contributions. Prosecutors have accused Edwards of accepting and receiving campaign contributions to cover up an extra-marital affair that resulted in a pregnancy. He allegedly used those funds to pay for the living and medical expenses of Rielle Hunter, with whom he was having the affair.
In a statement following Edwards’ indictment, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said that Edwards “is alleged to have accepted more than $900,000 in an effort to conceal from the public facts that he believed would harm his candidacy.”
Craig said at the time that Edwards “will tell the court he is innocent of all charges, and will plead not guilty. He did not break the law and will mount a vigorous defense.”
Staff writers Matthew Huisman, David Ingram and Zoe Tillman contributed to this report. National Law Journal photo by Rob Rich.