Jury Still Out In Menendez Case - Opposing Views

Jury Still Out In Menendez Case

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The jury in Sen. Robert Menendez's corruption trial has yet to reach a verdict as of Nov. 14. 

Jurors did not ask any questions and sent no notes during the day's deliberations, according to Politico.

Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey and former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, faces 12 counts of corruption. His co-defendant, eye doctor Salomon Melgen, is charged with 11 counts.

Deliberations began on Nov. 6, but a jury member was dismissed on Nov. 9 to go on a long-planned vacation, according to CBS News. An alternate took that juror's place and Judge William Walls ordered the jury to restart deliberating on Nov. 13.

"Take as much time as you need," Walls told the jurors, according to The Associated Press. "This is not reality TV. This is real life."

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Defense attorneys argued that Walls' advice could influence the trial's outcome. They suggested he should inform the jury that a hung jury is a legitimate outcome.

"Tell me some other case, some other trial court, some other circuit that said this," Walls said in response, according to Politico. "This is one time I don't necessarily have to be first. Find some case that says that, all right?"

Menendez spoke outside the court on Nov. 14. He compared his efforts to prevent Republicans in the Senate from repealing parts of Obamacare to the attempts by some jurors to resist convicting him.

"I appreciate the jurors who have been standing up for my innocence during the course of jury deliberations, standing up for me as I have stood up for New Jerseyans," Menendez stated.

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Menendez is accused of accepting trips on Melgen's private jet and around $750,000 in campaign contributions in addition to other gifts. In return, he allegedly lobbied government officials on behalf of Melgen's business interests. Menendez allegedly helped Melgen secure visas for three former girlfriends, assisted in a dispute over Medicare worth around $8.9 million, and urged U.S. officials to push for the Dominican Republic to fulfill a major port contract owned by Melgen.

The defense contends that Menendez and Melgen are longtime friends. Furthermore, Menendez's lawyers suggest that Melgen's disputes with the government were related to legitimate policy concerns.

Prosecutor Peter Koski, raising the possibility that the deadlock could continue, asked Walls to tell the jurors that they can reach a partial decision if they are able to agree on some of the charges. Walls replied that he would be open to doing so if required.

According to The Associated Press, the likelihood of a mistrial increases the longer a jury deliberates.

Sources: CBS News, The Associated Press via WJAX, Politico / Featured Image: menendez.senate.gov/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: JRDPhotography/Wikimedia Commons, Luigi Novi/Wikimedia Commons

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