Judge declares mistrial in Menendez corruption case

Geneva Matthews
November 17, 2017

Federal Courthouse after U.S. District Judge William Walls declared a mistrial in Menendez' federal corruption trial, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, in Newark, N.J. She said in an interview with NJ Advance Media last week after her dismissal that she thought Menendez was innocent on every count.

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.

The prosecution has the option of retrying Menendez and co-defendant Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor, though it is unclear as to whether it will do so.

This is a developing story. The federal bribery trial of Menendez ended in a mistrial Thursday when the jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked on all charges against the New Jersey politician and a wealthy donor.

The long-awaited verdict for Democratic Sen. National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Bob Salera cited a Quinnipiac University poll conducted during the trial that found just 19 percent of New Jersey respondents felt Menendez deserved another term.

The first juror to give a glimpse into jury deliberations was Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby who was dismissed because of a planned vacation.

"To those who were digging my political grave so they could jump into my seat, I know who you are and I won't forget you", Menendez said.

"We can not reach a unanimous decision, " the jury said in a note just before lunch on Thursday.

It's possible that the government could put Menendez on trial again, but we'll revisit that aspect at a separate juncture.

After the hung jury, Menendez's political adviser, Mike Soliman, said "all things indicate" the senator will run for re-election, and an announcement will probably be made in the coming weeks. Prosecutor Peter Koski suggested that Walls ask jurors whether they thought they could reach a partial verdict, appearing to hope for a conviction on at least one count. "It was a victimless crime, I think, and it was an email trial". "After a nine week trial, this jury has been deliberating for just over three days", lead prosecutor Peter Koski told judge, adding it's "not unusual" to reach an agreement after initial disagreement.

While mistrials are generally considered wins for defense lawyers and losses for prosecutors, the Justice Department will likely feel significant internal pressure to put the senator on trial again, because recent Supreme Court decisions have raised questions about how much legal authority prosecutors still have in pursuing corruption charges involving payments not explicitly and directly linked to official acts. On Monday the jury told the judge they were deadlocked, but he told them to keep going.

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