Edwards’ persuasive powers

by Walter Olson on January 20, 2004

Having long taken an interest in the career of North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (see Sept. 16, Aug. 27 (talk about bad predictions!), Aug. 5, earlier posts), we are not entirely surprised that the silver-tongued trial lawyer/politician did so well among Iowa Democrats, not to mention charming such commentators as Mickey Kaus (scroll to second “P.P.S.” item) and Andrew Sullivan (second item). As we’ve had occasion to note, before entering politics Sen. Edwards had some of his greatest success representing families of kids with cerebral palsy against the doctors who’d allegedly botched their deliveries — this despite a steadily mounting pile of research (see Feb. 27, 2003) tending to refute the popular theory that cerebral palsy is commonly caused by obstetricians’ conduct during labor and delivery. Last March, in a letter to the editor printed at this site, Mississippi physician S.W. Bondurant wondered whether the press would look into the question of whether Edwards’s trial wins were based on sound science. Now reporter Marc Morano of the conservative CNSNews.com takes on that assignment (“Did ‘Junk Science’ Make John Edwards Rich?”, CNSNews.com, Jan. 20). Just to clarify my own views, which are quoted at some length: I don’t assert that every lawsuit blaming obstetricians for infant brain damage is unfounded. The problem is that our system gives wide leeway for cases of debatable scientific merit to be filed and then, after a battle of the hired experts, decided by appeals to jury emotion. (& welcome visitors from sites including Kaus (Jan. 20), Sullivan, MedPundit, Rangel M.D., Blog 702, MedRants, and many others)

{ 9 comments }

1 BALASUBRAMANIA'S MANIA 01.21.04 at 12:00 pm

Edwards / Trial Wins

Overlawyered flags a potential Edwards issue here (cited with approval by Mr. Kaus here). Except there’s really no issue. I guess it’s a politics issue, and not really a legal or ethical issue. It would made sense to be specific…

2 BALASUBRAMANIA'S MANIA 01.21.04 at 12:01 pm

Edwards / Trial Wins

Overlawyered flags a potential Edwards issue here (cited with approval by Mr. Kaus here). Except there’s really no issue. I guess it’s a politics issue, and not really a legal or ethical issue. It would make sense to be specific…

3 Legal Memo-Random 01.21.04 at 1:02 pm

Overlawyered on Edwards

Overlawyered takes a moment to reflect on some of Democratic primary candidate John Edwards, and the sorts of cases that helped him make his personal fortune. Unfortunately, in retrospect and without too many facts on individual cases, its hard to

4 Sick Transit 01.21.04 at 1:23 pm

From the Department of Duh

From an article about Edwards’ reliance on questionable science in his trial-lawyer days:

But some of Edwards’ critics say that as a trial lawyer, he relied more on his verbal skills than the latest scientific evidence to persuade juries.

Ed…

5 famous and nonfamous strangers 01.21.04 at 2:42 pm

John Edwards’ ethical past?

Interesting article at Overlawyered.com about John Edward’s past as a trial lawyer. Seems he made much of his fortune bilking…

6 Notes from the (Legal) Underground 01.21.04 at 6:54 pm

Walter Olson Buries the Lead

News flash: Walter Olson at overlawyered.com admits that some lawsuits have merit. In a post about John Edwards’ past as a trial lawyer, Olson states: “I don’t assert that every lawsuit blaming obstetricians for infant brain damage is unfounded.” In

7 Baseball Crank 01.22.04 at 7:05 am

POLITICS: Edwardian Nightmare

I gotta say, all of a sudden my prediction last January of Edwards and Kerry as the top 2 candidates for the Democrats (in that order), with Lieberman a distant sixth and Dean a candidate with some appeal and advantages…

8 PointOfLaw Forum 07.06.04 at 11:18 am

Kerry taps Edwards — has Trial Lawyers, Inc. entered the race?

The big news of the day is that presidential contendor John Kerry has tapped fellow senator John Edwards of North Carolina to be his running mate. As most Americans are aware, Edwards grew up the son of a textile mill…

9 An Englishman's Castle 08.10.04 at 2:09 am

Personal not political

I have been mulling over whether to post this or not for several reasons so excuse me if it seems inappropriate. But I can’t get on with normal blogging until I clear this out of my system. Four years ago…

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