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Edwards Trial Judge Continues Jury Selection, Bans Phones

April 18 (Bloomberg) -- The judge overseeing the trial of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards continued jury selection as the April 23 start-date for the proceeding approaches.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles today also ruled spectators will not be able to make calls from the courtroom during the trial.

“Cell phone use is prohibited in the courtroom,” Eagles wrote in oversized, bold-face letters on an order she placed on the docket, emphasizing her point.

The process went slowly today. Eagles dismissed one juror in the morning and five more in the afternoon. Her goal is to eventually seat 12 jurors and four alternates from an original pool of 185.

Edwards, 58, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina, is charged with violating campaign finance rules and using almost $1 million in contributions to hide an affair. He denies each of six counts, which carry a maximum prison sentence of five years each and $250,000 in fines.

Prosecutors allege he solicited money from two wealthy donors, through a former aide, to hide his relationship with filmmaker Rielle Hunter. The money allegedly paid for flights, accommodations and medical and living expenses for Hunter, who was pregnant with Edwards’s child.

The case is U.S. v. Edwards, 11-00161, U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro).

To contact the reporters on this story: Phil Milford in Wilmington, Delaware, at pmilford@bloomberg.net; John Peragine in Greensboro, North Carolina, at drjohnnd@hotmail.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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