THE MENENDEZ TRIAL: In Aftermath of Jury Bedlam Comments by Ex-Juror, Walls Erupts on Lowell

NEWARK – Despite a parting letter to the judge and explosive press interviews seen by a quarter of the jury, the sentiments of a juror who exited Sen. Bob Menendez’s corruption trial last week had little impact today other than an hour delay to deliberations.

Judge William Walls privately interviewed the four members of the jury who said they had seen or heard interviews with Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby, who told outlets including InsiderNJ she believed the prosecution in the case was “corrupt” and Menendez innocent. Arroyo-Maultsby included some of her objections in a note to Walls she left behind Thursday afternoon.
 
In court this morning before the jury entered the room, defense attorneys requested Walls ask the jurors what they had seen of the coverage. Walls was thinking a few steps ahead, believed the defense was trying to walk him into a mistrial, and erupted at Menendez’s attorney Abbe Lowell.
 
“As I told your colleague many years ago, all you want to do is win,” Walls bellowed. “I’m not interested in the win, I’m interested in whether it is done correctly.”
 
Walls said there was “no way on God’s green earth” he was going to grant a mistrial in the case.
 
Prosecutors objected to the judge speaking with the jury at all.
 
“This jury does not need a chaperone,” lead prosecutor Peter Koski said.
 
If jurors saw media accounts of the deliberations through Arroyo-Maultsby’s eyes, it’s unlikely they found out anything they did not already know. What Arroyo-Maultsby’s interview and note revealed were a more serious potential issue – that the now-dismissed juror may have asked to communicate with the judge and been stopped by her colleagues.
 
Walls did not say what his talks with the jurors revealed when everyone reassembled in the courtroom around 11 a.m.
 
“There is a claim made by absent Juror #8 that her attempt to make communication with the court was thwarted,” Walls said.
 
The judge said he wouldn’t address the truth of the matter, but spoke to the jury as a whole.
 
“Every juror has the right to communicate with me,” Walls said. “At any and all times.”
 
With the alternate replacing Arroyo-Maultsby now on the panel, Walls told the members they were a “new jury.”
 
“You are to disregard whatever your negotiated or deliberated on last week,” Walls said.
 
“This is Day 1,” he added.
 
With that, he sent jurors back to the jury room, to start their deliberations from scratch. The jury will deliberate until 3:30 p.m. today.
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