THE MENENDEZ TRIAL: Another Juror Speaks Out

NEWARK – One of the jurors who heard Sen. Bob Menendez’s trial spoke out today after the case ended with a hung jury, saying he believed Menendez’s claims of innocence and that the overwhelming majority of jurors in the case voted to acquit the senator.

Ed Norris, a 49-year-old Morris County resident who works as an equipment operator, was the only one of the dozen jurors to speak out when the jury emerged as a group from the back door of the courthouse. Norris was calm, not cowed by a cluster of cameras and microphones encircling him, and answered questions in brief, measured responses.

Norris said he was one of 10 jurors who ultimately believed Menendez should be acquitted, and that federal prosecutors had not proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I didn’t think there was anything that was bad that (Menendez) did, I just didn’t see it,” Norris said.

“It was a victimless crime, I think,” he said. “It was a crime where it was an email trial. I just didn’t see the smoking gun.

Two jurors were stalwart guilty votes throughout the eight days of deliberation, leading to the deadlock. Norris was unconvinced by their arguments.

“They didn’t make them, they just said he was guilty,” he said.

Asked if the jurors took Judge William Walls’ advice and tried to reason with those voting guilty, Norris nodded and said he tried.

“There was nothing back, just ‘guilty'” he said.

The only charge the jury considered convicting the senator on was count 18 of the indictment, that Menendez falsified his Senate financial disclosure forms by leaving off the gifts from his friend Dr. Salomon Melgen.

“We were trying to reach for verdict 18, but we didn’t go for it at the end of the day,” Norris said.

Norris confirmed former juror Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby’s account that some jurors switched their votes from not guilty to guilty during the process, but the defections proved to be temporary and the count remained 10 in favor of acquittal. Arroyo-Maultsby’s departure and the arrival of a new juror did not change that balance.

“It was very tense,” Norris said. “We were deadlocked right out of the gate. When you’re deadlocked out of the gate, I can’t force somebody else to debate, I can’t force somebody to think a certain way, or you can’t get mad over it, you just need to respect the person and respect their opinion.”

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