The jury left Tuesday without reaching a verdict in the corruption trial of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez

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NEWARK — As jurors in the federal corruption trial of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez left the courthouse Tuesday without reaching a verdict, attorneys for the Democratic lawmaker from New Jersey urged the judge to declare a mistrial if the panel continues to say it’s deadlocked.

U.S. District Judge William Walls excused the jury Tuesday afternoon without questioning its members about whether they are closer to reaching a verdict, but defense attorneys pushed him to come up with a plan in the event jurors say they can’t reach a unanimous decision on the charges against Menendez and his co-defendant, Salomon Melgen.

If jurors indicate they can’t agree on a verdict, defense attorneys want Walls to question the foreman whether they’re hopelessly deadlocked, but prosecutors want the judge to send them back to continue deliberations.

In the case they are deadlocked, defense attorney Murad Hussain said he would want Walls to declare a mistrial. However, prosecutor Peter Koski argued the judge should tell jurors they can deliver verdicts for the charges on which they have unanimous agreement.

“The law is pretty clear … that a hung jury is a legitimate verdict,” Raymond Brown Jr., a member of Menendez’s defense team, said, arguing the judge should have told jurors no verdict can be an acceptable outcome to a trial.

Walls, however, said he was not aware of any legal instructions that inform jurors of that option and he challenged Hussain and Brown to show him previous cases where that occurred.

“Do we have any case nationally where a trial court informed the jury that a hung jury was a satisfactory result?” Walls asked.

“I have not looked for one yet,” Hussain said.

Walls said he would give Brown some advice Brown’s late father, esteemed civil rights lawyer Raymond Brown Sr., gave to him: “Put up or shut up.”

The 12-member jury – with a new member as of Monday – has been deliberating since last week and told Walls on Monday that it was deadlocked. The judge sent them home early on Monday and sent them back to deliberations Tuesday morning with slightly revised instructions.

Evelyn Arroyo-Mautsby, a juror who was excused on Thursday to go on a pre-planned vacation, told reporters the jury was split on bribery charges and that she was the only one who felt Menendez was not …read more

Source:: New Jersey Real-Time News

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Defense in Menendez case pushes for mistrial as jurors fail to reach verdict

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