NEWARK – Jurors in Sen. Bob Menendez’s corruption trial are deadlocked, saying this afternoon they are unable to reach a unanimous verdict on any of the charges against the senator and his co-defendant Dr. Salomon Melgen.
But Judge William Walls did not accept their declaration, instead sending jurors home for the day early and directing them to resume deliberations tomorrow.
“It is your duty as jurors to consult with one another,” Walls told the panel when they assembled in court. “Each of you must decide the case for yourself.”
Walls received a note from the jury foreman at 2 p.m., which read, “We cannot reach a unanimous decision on any of the charges. Is there any guidance?”
Lead prosecutor Peter Koski pointed out that a new juror had been seated just this morning, and the newly constituted panel had only deliberated for two hours and an hour-long “working lunch.”
Menendez’s attorney Abbe Lowell asked Walls to accept that the jury was deadlocked.
“It seems to me we should take them at their word,” Lowell said.
Walls disagreed, and dismissed the jurors early to get, as he put it, “a good meal, a good sleep” and return tomorrow morning to try again.
As he left court this afternoon, Menendez was calm. He pointed to the deadlock as evidence that at least some on the jury firmly believed he was innocent.
“I feel no juror should be coerced,” Menendez said.