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Mistrial Declared in Sen. Menendez Corruption Trial
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Bob Menendez

Summary: The jury in the corruption trial of Senator Bob Menendez was unable to reach a verdict, ending in a mistrial.

The jury for the federal corruption trial of New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez ended in a deadlock today. The judge declared the mistrial after talking with the 12-person jury in order to learn that reaching a verdict was hopeless.

  
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United States District Judge William Walls made the ruling at the conclusion of the 11-week trial against the politician accused of corruption. Walls said, “I find that you are unable to reach a verdict and that further deliberations would be futile. And there’s no alternative to declaring a mistrial.”

A mistrial is a trial that is not completed successfully or “terminated and declared void before the jury returns a verdict or the judge renders his or her decision in a nonjury trial,” according to the American Bar Association. Mistrials can be declared for various reasons including the death of a juror or attorney, juror misconduct, a juror goes to the media to discuss the case, or a juror is found to be prejudiced. The most common reason for a mistrial is when the jury cannot reach a verdict, according to Professor of law Adam Winkler at the University of California Los Angeles.

When a mistrial is declared, three things can happen – the prosecutor can dismiss the charges, a plea bargain can be made, or another criminal trial will begin again on the same charges. Winkler told Fox News that “Most disputes initially end in settlements because trials are so expensive – especially in corruption cases.” Trials are costly in time and money. Generally, the prosecution does not opt to go to trial again if the argument is not strong enough to win.

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Going back to trial is also difficult because both sides have already shown their strategies. Winkler said, “The defense has already seen the other side’s strategy.” Sometimes this is a good thing and allows the prosecution the chance to develop a better strategy.

The Justice Department had been investigating Menendez for nearly five years. He was accused of conspiracy, bribery and honest services fraud related to abusing his position of power. Prosecutors claim he accepted over $600,000 in political contributions, a suite at the Park Hyatt in Paris, and rides on a private jet owned by ophthalmologist Dr. Salomon Melgen in exchange for political favors. Prosecutors argued that Menendez was pressuring officials to get rid of an $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute involving Melgen. Menendez claimed he was concerned about the billing policies.



DOJ spokeswoman Nicole Navas said, “The Department of Justice appreciates the jury’s service in this lengthy trial. The Department will carefully consider next steps in this important matter and report to the court at the appropriate time.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has now called for a Senate Ethics Committee Investigation. He said, “Menendez is one of only 12 US senators to have been indicted in our history. His trial shed light on serious accusations of violating the public’s rust as an elected official, as well as potential violations of the Senate’s Code of Conduct.”

Do you think the gifts Menendez received were more than just between friends? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about corrupt politicians, read these articles:

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org



 

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