Politics

Menendez Trial Jury to Resume Deliberations After Juror Replaced

Judge might question jurors if they heard former juror’s comments that they were leaning toward acquittal

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., has been on trial for 11 weeks on 17 counts of bribery. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Bob Menendez’s day of reckoning is back on track after a snafu with a juror in his trial halted deliberations last week. The juror has been replaced and deliberations are scheduled to resume today.

Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby has been relieved of jury duty  because of a previously scheduled vacation U.S. District Judge William H. Walls knew about during jury selections in August. Walls assured Arroyo-Maultsby she could take the vacation under the premise that the trial would not last more than eight weeks. The trial is entering its 11th week.

Arroyo-Maultsby told reporters Thursday that many of her fellow jurors were leaning toward acquittal, but that she expected a hung jury. 

Walls may interview each of the jurors to see if they’re aware of Arroyo-Maultsby’s comments.

Menendez has been on trial alongside Salomon Melgen, the South Florida ophthalmologist who showered the senator with gifts in a fashion that government lawyers contend was illegal.

Menendez is on trial for 17 counts of bribery for assisting Melgen both with a Medicare fraud conviction and helping the Melgen's girlfriends enter the United States legally.

The trial’s drawn-out deliberation process has potentially explosive political ramifications. The combination of the length of the trial and the new complications with the jury deliberations have already pushed the verdict past New Jersey’s gubernatorial election, with Democrat Phil Murphy winning the race.

That could make it all the more likely that Menendez would resist calls by Republicans to resign if convicted, since stalling the process until Murphy takes office in Trenton would ensure a Democrat holds the seat.

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