The attorney for U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) wants the court to consider a new trial schedule that would allow the defendant to be present on the floor of the U.S. Senate for critical votes.
On the week that the corruption trial for Menendez officially got underway with jury selection, Abbe David Lowell yesterday submitted the motion to the court of the Honorable William H. Walls, following up on a dilemma Menendez personally brought to the judge’s attention.
The U.S. Senator seeks relief from the judge, especially in the month of September, to be present in the senate for votes, including raising the federal borrowing limit to avoid default and approving a spending deal to avoid a government shutdown. Lowell noted, too, that the National Flood Insurance Program, which protects 200,000 New Jersey policyholders, will expire at the end of September if Congress does not reauthorize; and mentioned in his letter an expected comprehensive rewrite of the tax code on the senate agenda.
He also brought up healthcare.
“As the recent vote on whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act demonstrated,” Lowell wrote, “the Senate is divided by razor thin margins on consequential legislation, making Senator Menendez’s absence from any vote particularly determinative.”
Iran and North Korea and similarly weighty topics will also arise, the attorney told the judge.
Making the case that criminal defendants have a strong and constitutionally protected right to be present at their own trials, against the backdrop of those thorny federal issues, Lowell asked that the court adjourn on those occasions when Menendez notifies the judge of an upcoming critical voting session.
“The court could adjourn trial for the day to accommodate participation,” the attorney suggested.
The full letter to the court can be accessed by clicking the link below.