Thursday, 14 December, 2017

New Jersey senator's bribery trial ends in a hung jury

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez answers a question from a reporter before entering the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Courthouse for his federal corruption trial Thursday Nov. 16 2017 in Newark N.J. Jury deliberations continued on Thursday morning Jurors Still Deadlocked in Corruption Trial of Senator Menendez
Erik Tate | 17 November, 2017, 01:24

"Since well before a New Jersey grand jury returned the initial indictment in April 2015, the defendants have attempted to undermine the legitimacy of the investigation and resulting charges by repeatedly using public statements and court filings to promote unfounded claims that this case is the result of a global conspiracy led by Menendez's political opponents", the Justice Department claimed in a document outlining their evidence against Menendez.

A judge on Thursday declared a mistrial in the federal corruption trial of Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey who faced 18 counts of bribery, fraud, and corruption.

After receiving Thursday's note, U.S. District Court Judge William Walls made a decision to interview the foreman and at least one other juror in chambers, in the presence of the lawyers on the case.

After interviewing the jury foreman and juror No. 2, the judge appeared to spend at least 30 minutes with juror No. 3.

The note said jurors had reviewed the evidence slowly, thoroughly and in great detail and still couldn't reach a unanimous verdict, Menendez attorney Abbe Lowell said.

Menendez and Melgen are accused of running a bribery scheme between 2006 and 2013 in which Menendez traded his political influence for luxury vacations and flights on the doctor's private plane.

This is a developing story. Bob Menendez ended in a mistrial Thursday afternoon when jurors were again deadlocked in a case that threatened to end the Democratic lawmaker's political career.

The senator's more immediate troubles may come on Capitol Hill, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) today called for a Senate Ethics Committee examination of Menendez and the charges against him.

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Defense attorneys countered that Menendez and Melgen were longtime buddies and the gifts, rather than bribes, reflecting their close relationship.

The deliberations were re-started midway after one juror, Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby, had to be replaced by an alternate because of a vacation she had informed the judge about in advance.

"They are telling us in the clearest terms possible that they have done their job as diligent jurors". New Jersey is a pretty blue state - Republicans haven't won a U.S. Senate race in the Garden State since before Watergate - and no credible GOP contenders have expressed an interest in next year's contest.

If they don't reach a verdict Thursday, deliberations might resume Monday.

Ralf Milner, a 59-year-old a juror from Vernon, said he was not convinced Menendez was completely innocent, but said he voted to acquit on "99 percent" of the charges.

The hung jury comes after almost two weeks of deliberations. "If Menendez chooses to run for re-election, New Jersey voters will reject him".

At the time, Walls told them to go home for the day, eat a good meal and get some rest, and try again in the morning.

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