A federal decide has refused to declare a mistrial within the corruption case towards U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and co-defendant Salomon Melgen.
“The protection needs to spend morning, midday and night time discussing the contracts in every case, the difficulty of a number of dosages and the difficulty of scanning with regard to the safety contract with regard to the port within the Dominican Republic,” U.S. District Courtroom Choose William H. Partitions mentioned. “It’s a query for this court docket to find out when sufficient of sufficient. It’s not a query that the court docket interferes together with your presentation of the protection. Completely not.”
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Attorneys for Menendez and Melgen had charged that Partitions stored them from introducing proof and key witnesses, depriving them of giving a good protection. Menendez is charged with serving to Melgen in a $eight.9 million Medicare dispute, a Dominican port safety dispute and securing visas for his international girlfriends in alternate for presents together with resort rooms, personal jet flights and round $750,000 in political contributions.
The shock movement for a mistrial got here Thursday, after Partitions refused to let the protection name its last witness, lawyer Marc Elias. Attorneys for Menendez and Melgen wished Elias to speak about information gathering on flights Menendez took on Melgen’s personal jet — a part of what prosecutors cost was a bribery scheme — in response to an inquiry from the Senate’s ethics committee. The protection had sought to point out that Menendez didn’t deliberately disguise the variety of flights he took however Partitions wouldn’t permit it.
Partitions additionally stopped the protection from calling worker of the Facilities for Medicare and Medicaid Companies as a witness to testify about confusion round its coverage on “multi-dosing” medicine — one thing Melgen allegedly did to over-bill Medicare.
“For the defendants to really feel as if their rights have been for the exclusion of a lady whose title I can’t keep in mind proper now — it causes me to lose any respect I’ve on your judgement so far as remaining authorized challenges to what I do,” Partitions mentioned.
The protection insisted that prosecutors had been in a position to inform their story, however that prosecutors and Partitions stored the protection from asking questions and introducing paperwork that may converse to the defendants motive and intent.
“We don’t take this sort of movement frivolously and we don’t elevate it for dramatic impact. We do it as a result of we really feel stifled,” Menendez lawyer Abbe Lowell mentioned.
Lead prosecutor Peter Koski mentioned the protection was lashing out, saying that earlier than the trial began Menendez blamed the Cuban authorities, President Obama and Republican operative Rogers stone for his troubles. Now, he mentioned, they’ve blamed Menendez’s personal staffers, the prosecution and Partitions.
“The defendants are unwilling to just accept accountability for his or her conduct and this movement is extra proof of that,” Koski mentioned.
Koski mentioned the protection “grossly mischaracterizes the document within the effort to generate a public narrative that they’re not getting a good trial.”
Partitions’ choice was anticipated, however the protection seems to be laying the groundwork for an enchantment ought to Menendez and Melgen be convicted. The protection is anticipated to relaxation at present — the beginning of the trial’s ninth week.
Partitions additionally slammed the protection for claiming that he ought to have punished one of many prosecutors for asking a “throw-away” query that she knew wouldn’t be allowed, however was meant to make a degree.
“I’ve by no means heard a extra foolish objection. I don’t know what I’m speculated to do, herald a firing squad?” he mentioned.
Partitions additionally denied the protection’s movement that he rethink a few of his choices to exclude proof, permitting them to current it.