Still Deadlocked: Jury Says They're Divided In Menendez's Corruption Trial
- Author: Sonia Alvarado Nov 17, 2017,
Nov 17, 2017, 0:26
Ultimately, neither Menendez nor his co-defendant, Salomon Melgen, both 63, elected to take the stand in their own defense.
"We can not reach a unanimous decision, " the jury said in a note just before lunch on Thursday.
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Though we don't yet have a full sense of the deliberations, the New Jersey lawmaker likely benefited from the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously agreeing past year to make it more hard to convict politicians on corruption charges in U.S. v. McDonnell. On Monday, a juror who was dismissed from the trial told media outlets that the jury was deadlocked, with a majority of the jurors leaning towards an acquittal. Bob Menendez and a wealthy friend could hear new instructions from the judge Wednesday as they resume deliberations.
The jury had come back twice already, deadlocked on all charges, before U.S. District Judge William Walls threw in the towel. On November 16, the federal judge presiding over the case declared a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a verdict after a week of deliberations. According to the judge, such action would go down "the slippery slope of coercion". Bob Menendez's bribery trial says that the jury finished with 10 people who wanted to acquit the Democrat, but two holding out for a conviction.
After interviewing the jury foreman and juror No. 2, the judge appeared to spend at least 30 minutes with juror No. 3.
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The jurors were instructed that they could find the men guilty even if they felt the prosecution didn't match specific gifts to specific acts by Menendez.
After nine weeks of testimony, the jury has struggled to reach a consensus on any of the charges against Menendez and his co-defendant, Salomon Melgen.
Federal prosecutors have the option of trying again - in other words, they can refile the charges and try their luck with another jury - but given the circumstances, that seems unlikely. We'll see if it lasts. Menendez is seen walking to his vehicle with his son, Robert Jr., as he departs the federal court on Wednesday in Newark, New Jersey.
"Certain elements of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and of our state cannot stand, or even worse, accept that the Latino kid from Union City and Hudson County could grow up to be a United States senator and be honest", said the 63-year-old son of Cuban immigrants. The optics - even between friends - of a powerful US senator accepting gifts from a wealthy friend, who was also seeking assistance from federal agencies, was bad. That may not matter when New Jersey votes a year from now.
"I want to thank the jury, 12 New Jerseyans who saw through the government's false claims and used their Jersey common sense to reject it", he told reporters outside the courthouse before blasting the Justice Department.