Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Jury Deliberations Keep Senator Waiting

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Jury Deliberations Keep Senator Waiting

Article excerpt

The sixth full day of deliberations at the corruption trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez came and went without a single note or question from the jury — and no verdict.

Jurors emerged from 51/2 hours of discussions Wednesday afternoon with their heads hung, seemingly fatigued. U.S. District Court Judge William H. Walls dismissed them for the day and asked them to return Thursday morning.

Since Monday, when jurors told Walls they were deadlocked on all 18 counts against Menendez and his co-defendant Salomon Melgen, there has been no sign of whether they have moved closer to a consensus.

After court Wednesday, Menendez said he hoped jurors would reach a verdict of acquittal on Thursday, averting the need for the trial to spill over into the week of Thanksgiving.

"I hope that they come to a verdict across the board of innocence and I look forward hopefully to tomorrow being that day," Menendez said.

Walls has not said whether he would ask jurors to sit Friday. Since the start of the trial on Sept. 6, jurors have always had Fridays off.

Walls on Wednesday did not address a request defense attorneys made a day prior to instruct jurors that a hung jury is an acceptable outcome.

He also offered no response to a legal brief defense attorneys filed Wednesday morning in which they "preemptively" advised the judge on what to do if the jury at some point indicates it is still deadlocked.

Referencing the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' model criminal jury instructions, they said Walls should initiate a "polling process" by which he asks the jury foreman "whether in your judgement there is a reasonable probability that the jury can arrive at a unanimous verdict in this case if sent back for further deliberations."

If the foreman says the jury is deadlocked, then the judge should question each juror individually about the chances of resolving the deadlock. …

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