That Paternity Test

John Edwards may be a fool for love but he's no fool as a lawyer. Faced with the ongoing disclosures by the National Enquirer of his long-standing affair with campaign worker, Rielle Hunter, and the imminent threat that Enquirer was about to publish substantiating photographs of his two-week ago rendezvous with his paramour and their love child, he did what any clever trial lawyer would do, he did a modified, limited hangout, admitting as little as possible to buy himself some time to rebuild his defense.

Yeah, yeah, OK, so there was some hanky-panky back in 2006 but that's all ancient history. So what? Let's just put all that behind us and move forward here, know what I mean? Like any good courtroom performer Edwards trotted out a verbal timetable in his media mea culpa to demonstrate that if the affair ended when he said it did back in 2006 (which the luxuriously stashed and cared for Ms. Hunter is sure to verify) then that little bundle of joy could not possibly be the result of any carnal couplings between these two carefree kids. Heck, they just had a brief, inconsequential, campaign fling and went their separate ways.

And just to make sure we believe him, John threw it right out there on the table that he's more than willing to take a paternity test to prove he's not the father. Now I must admit to a bit of consternation upon hearing that, wondering what kind of lawyer trick this was. Then my lovely bride of forty years, who was also a certified legal assistant in the employ of numerous trial lawyers for thirty years, pointed out the obvious: you need a complainant to make John's bold proffer meaningful in any way.

She went on to explain, as that little light bulb was going on over my head, that Edwards could take all the paternity tests in the world but if there is no matching test obtained from the child in question, there would be nothing to match it to. And then I began to understand why this guy was able to get tens of millions of dollars out corporate coffers. If there is no complainant, meaning Ms. Hunter, seeking to establish legal paternity, then wherefrom will come the genetic materials to be used in the testing/matching process?

There is no father listed on the birth certificate so that makes Ms. Hunter the sole legal representative of the baby, and the only person who can submit that child for genetic testing to obtain a possible matching sample. And is Ms. Hunter likely to do that when she considers the possibility that she may someday be Mrs. Edwards, wife of one of the wealthiest trial attorneys in America? And there are news reports that she has indeed alluded to such a future with Mr. Silky Pony when he is no longer matrimonially encumbered.

Now I suppose there might be provisions under California law that would permit involuntary testing in a paternity suit if there were compelling public interests at stake but we have neither a complainant nor a compelling public interest here. What we do have, in my opinion, is a very slick demonstration of lawyering skills being applied by a man so unslick as to allow himself to be cornered in a public restroom by a bunch of reporters and photographers at the scene of the slime.

What a helluva man you are John! But, you know, as I think about it, we might be better off having a courtroom whiz like you dealing with the likes of Achmadinejad than some academic legal lightweight like B.O.

Ah well...