NEWARK – The prosecution has rested in Sen. Bob Menendez’s corruption trial, but a major ruling by the judge could dismiss the entire case before the day is out.
Judge William Walls dismissed the jury until Monday but will take the bench again this afternoon without jurors present. He is expected to hear the defense’s motion for dismissal under the Supreme Court’s reversal of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s corruption conviction.
Earlier, Walls said he was “legally sick and tired” of repeated references by the senator’s defense team to the specifics of a Medicare billing dispute.
Walls was so annoyed he told lawyers he was near prohibiting them from referencing the drug Lucentis, the drug Menendez’s co-defendant Salomon Melgen stretched for extra doses.
“This is not explanation, this is just constant repetition, repetition, repetition that is insulting to the jury,” Walls said.
Walls erupted during Menendez lawyer Abbe Lowell’s cross-examination of FBI Agent Alan Mohl, the government’s last witness. Lowell was attempting to construct an alternate time line and show Menendez’s concern that included meetings with the secretary of Health and Human Services was broad concern over bad policy and not advocacy for his friend Melgen.
“It doesn’t matter the merits of this,” Lowell said. “This is a document where the staff is telling the senator things he acts on.”
Walls said the jury was being “drowned” by the defense’s reiterations and conceded Lowell had made his point.
“There is ample evidence, there is copious evidence the senator was advised of the multi-dosing issue early on,” Walls said.
Repeating some of the criticism he made in the trial’s opening weeks, Walls asked Lowell why he was repeating the references to Lucentis over and over.
“How stupid do you think the jury or the court are?” Walls said.
“How many times do we have to listen to this?” he added.
And, as before, Walls did not exempt the prosecution from criticism, accusing the government of sitting “supinely doing nothing” to object during cross-examination.
Walls further called Mohl “hapless” because the witness was being “bombarded” by questions that had very little to do with the agent’s personal knowledge.
“I would not want to be him,” Walls said of the FBI agent. “He’s (asked) all kinds of stuff he’s not competent to give an answer to.”
Eventually, Walls gave the lawyers a simple instruction which he had lead prosecutor Peter Koski restate: “Stick to the dates.”
To make his point, Walls used an analogy, telling jurors when they returned that a witness would be able to testify on the final scores of New York Yankees baseball games but not give analysis about why the team won or lost.
“He’s not supposed to tell us whether Justice is good or not or if he wins the MVP,” Walls said.
Justice did in fact win the American League Championship Series MVP I’m 2000, but left the Yankees in 2001 and has since retired from baseball.