“Go home and have a good meal and have a good sleep”
Democratic Senator Robert Menendez is on trial for bribery, honest services fraud, and conspiracy. Menendez is accused of using his Senate office to proffer favors for big-moneyed campaign donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen.
The trial came to a halt Monday with the jury deadlocked on all 12 federal charges.
U.S. District Judge William Walls sent them home early and told them to try again on Tuesday.
“Go home and have a good meal and have a good sleep,” Walls told the jury.
The jury foreman sent the judge a note around 2 p.m. saying the group could not reach a verdict on any of the counts.
“Is there any additional guidance and what do we do now?” the foreman asked the judge in his note.
The note was sent out just hours after an alternate juror joined the group to replace one who was excused last Thursday for vacation. That departing juror, Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby, told reporters that jurors couldn’t agree on a verdict on any of the bribery counts against the New Jersey Democrat or his co-defendant, Salomon Melgen.
The defense argued this was cause enough to declare a mistrial, but the presiding judge ordered jurors to go home early and return Tuesday to continue deliberations (NJ.com ctd):
Menendez’s attorney argued for the judge to declare an immediate mistrial. Prosecutors argued the jury had only begun its deliberations anew three hours earlier when an alternate juror was put on the panel and needed more time to deliberate.
“I think it would be appropriate that they continue their deliberations,” Walls said.
The jurors were advised to “start fresh” Monday after Juror Number 8 left for vacation, leaving a spot to fill. That juror then spoke with CNN, predicting a hung juror. From CNN:
Their 16 hours of deliberations — which spilled into rare public view last week — continued from scratch Monday morning with an alternate juror replacing one who was excused due to vacation plans.
“You are starting fresh,” Walls told the jury. “Forget about what happened last week. This is the jury.”
In an unusual tell-all to CNN and other news outlets last week, Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby, formerly juror No. 8, revealed the divisions among jurors over the multi-count indictment Menendez is facing and suggested “it’s going to be a hung jury.”
“(Prosecutors) just didn’t show me enough, and I just wish I wasn’t going on vacation,” Arroyo-Maultsby said. “I would’ve been fighting in that jury room.”
Headed into court Monday, Menendez told reporters that he “wished she hadn’t left.”
“I wish her a great vacation, I wish she hadn’t left, but I hope that no juror in the jury room feels bullied by another juror,” Menendez said. “I’m concerned about some of the comments she made … the environment in the jury room.”
Over the objection of the prosecution, Walls questioned jurors about whether they heard or read Arroyo-Maultsby’s comments to the press. Four jurors and, later, three alternates slowly raised their hands, but ultimately none were dismissed after further questioning behind closed doors with the judge and attorneys.
Menendez’s defense attorney, Abbe Lowell, urged Walls to engage in a more expansive inquiry regarding reports Arroyo-Maultsby wanted to contact the judge about deliberations last week and felt certain jurors were trying to “run out the clock” on her, knowing she had to leave on a pre-scheduled vacation.
“That’s life that they ran the clock out on her,” Walls told attorneys, unpersuaded that any harm was done. “She never had the votes.”
A sitting U.S. Senator on trial for bribery and corruption hasn’t caught the attention of major news outlets, who haven’t bothered to cover the story.
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