Another Day Without A Verdict In Menendez Trial As Possible Mistrial Looms

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Jurors spent another day Tuesday deliberating the verdict of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s bribery trial resumed deliberations Tuesday but again were unable to reach a decision.

On Monday, they told the judge they are at an impasse. The judge ordered them to keep at it Tuesday.

They deliberated from 10 a.m. through 3:30 p.m. and worked through lunch but came back with no verdict. They will resume deliberating Wednesday.

After the jury wrapped deliberations for the day, Menendez’s defense lobbied the judge to declare a mistrial if the jury indicate they are deadlocked during deliberations Wednesday. Prosecutors asked the judge to see if the jurors can reach a unanimous verdict on some of the counts, and if so, return those.

The panel sent a note to the judge Monday afternoon saying they couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict on any of the 18 counts in the indictment against Menendez and a wealthy friend.

A juror leaving for vacation last Thursday gave the public a rare view into the jury box.

“It’s a hung jury right now they’re not sure. They’re still going through all documents to see if they can see if anything wrong,” dismissed juror Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby told reporters at the time.

She was replaced with a female alternate and the judge told the jury to start deliberating from scratch.

On Tuesday morning, the judge reread jury instructions saying, “This is not meant to rush or pressure you into a verdict, take as much time as you need. This is a serious matter,” CBS2’s Meg Baker reported.

Asked how he was feeling as he arrived for court Tuesday, Menendez said, “What can I tell you?” and raised his shoulders, Baker reported.

The trial is in its 11th week. Menendez and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen are charged with running a bribery scheme between 2006 and 2013 in which Menendez lobbied government officials on Melgen’s behalf in exchange for luxury vacations and flights on Melgen’s private plane.

The men each face about a dozen counts including bribery, fraud and conspiracy. Menendez also is charged with making false statements for failing to report Melgen’s gifts on Senate disclosure forms.

Both men deny the allegations. Defense attorneys have sought to show jurors that the two men are longtime friends who exchanged gifts out of friendship. They also contend Menendez’s meetings with government officials were focused on broad policy issues.

The government spent more than two years investigating the New Jersey senator’s ties with Melgen before indicting them in the spring of 2015. Menendez, the former chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, has maintained his innocence since then, and has raised more than $6 million for his campaign and legal defense fund since the indictment.

A mistrial also would aid Menendez by not subjecting him to pressure to step down in the event of a conviction. Conversely, the charges likely would be hanging over him as he seeks re-election next year, assuming the government seeks a retrial.

The trial is the first major federal corruption trial since a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling raised the bar for prosecutors to prove official bribery. That ruling, which overturned the conviction of former Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, played a significant role in how the jury was instructed in the Menendez trial.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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