Menendez judge questions jurors about coverage

Menendez judge questions jurors about coverage”

Robert Menendez's defense attorney that the jury deliberating in the senator's bribery trial may have engaged in misconduct.

The judge questioned the jurors who said they were aware of the comments, then ordered the jury to restart deliberations with an alternate in place of the dismissed juror. She also said some jurors told her that her vote "didn't count" because she had to leave for a previously scheduled vacation.

Making matters worse, four of the 12 members of the jury and three alternates admitted to being exposed to press coverage of the case - including the released juror's remarks - over the weekend.

Arroyo-Mautsby told reporters after court on Thursday that a juror prevented her from sending a note to Walls and that she had been told that her vote didn't matter. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., will continue Monday after an alternate juror replaced one that was excused because of vacation plans, according to CNN. "You're way off target", Walls told Lowell while the jury was out of the courtroom. "Forget about what happened last week".

Prosecutors accuse Menendez of engaging in a seven-year bribery scheme, accepting gifts from Dr. Salomon Melgen - a Florida ophthalmologist - in exchange for political favors.

She later complained to Bloomberg about an internal battle over the verdict, saying her fellow jurors led her to believe her vote doesn't count. Both men deny all charges. "I would've been fighting in that jury room".

That led to calls of misconduct by the defense, but Newark federal Judge William Walls was skeptical.

Arroyo-Maultsby's descriptions of last week's deliberations, if accurate, forecast problems for the prosecution.

"That's life that they ran the clock out on her", Walls told attorneys, unpersuaded that any harm was done.

"You don't want this sort of feedback from someone who heard all of the evidence", said Lee Vartan, a former federal prosecutor, about Arroyo-Maultsby's comment, CNN reported. The Democrats have 48 seats in the Senate compared to Republicans' 52. If he's cleared of all wrongdoing, or at the very least, able to keep sentencing at bay until after January 16, 2018 - when GOP Gov. Chris Christie leaves office - Republicans would lose any leverage to push for his ouster.

Her fellow jurors disagreed and that's when Arroyo-Maultsby attempted to send a note to the judge about the unfairness of the process - but her fellow jurors blocked her from doing so, she said.

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