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Does a ‘bad heart’ lead to a bad heart?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
posted by Douglas Keene

John Edwards apparently has a bad heart and this will delay his criminal trial. Cynical commenters snipe “oh, he has a heart?” and there is little sympathy for a man people see as narcissistic. And now we see this research showing that narcissistic men have chronically high cortisol levels which leads to (you know this) heart problems. The ultimate irony. A bad heart leads to a bad heart.

Some wonder about the timing of this medical record disclosure–saying only a narcissist would leak his medical records at a time like this–shouldn’t we have heard about this when he was running for President? Our friend Charli Morris (a self-described “loyal Democrat”) tells us that the up-close view of this trial from her North Carolina home is not a pretty picture.

John Edwards took a short cut on the long slide from from “golden boy” to “most contemptible”.  Not unlike Newt Gingrich, he had an affair with a woman during his wife’s convalescence from cancer, and is now suffering the complications of having to deal with the stunningly insensitive abandonment. It’s  the ultimate challenge to pretrial publicity. While recent research would say that older jurors might be better for John Edwards, it’s hard to believe that jury selection will be that simple in his case. There are too many wrinkles and caveats and too many negative opinions.

While Gingrich prevailed among the Christian evangelical voters in the South Carolina Republican primary with claims that it was an error of the past brought on by excessive devotion to work(!), Edwards has much bigger problems.  Edwards’ betrayal was relatively recent, with a wife who has consistently been more popular than he is, who died after having been in recovery at the time that the scandal was made public.  While potential jurors may say they are able to be fair, it’s hard to see how most people can put the media information aside completely and offer a verdict based on facts alone.

It’s part of what makes voir dire such a constantly changing puzzle. Everyone tries to find an edge. Whether that edge is assessing social anxiety from Facebook profiles or some other strategy–we all look for clues in the arena of the not easily observed that will lead to a better jury selection. It’s our guess that the Edwards’ defense team is doing extensive pretrial research to identify trial themes, case narratives, and juror experiences that work for them and not against them.

Fernandez, K., Levinson, C., & Rodebaugh, T. (2012). Profiling: Predicting Social Anxiety From Facebook Profiles Social Psychological and Personality Science DOI: 10.1177/1948550611434967

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