Jurors in Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez's federal corruption trial told the judge Monday morning that they are hopelessly deadlocked and won't be able to reach a verdict on 12 charges, ranging from bribery to "public corruption."
Judge William Walls has ordered the jurors — seven women and five men — to take the rest of Monday off to "clear their heads," but wants them back at work on Tuesday to keep deliberating, CNN reports. He's asked them to "forget" about the last week of deliberations and "start fresh" with an eye on delivering a verdict.
"You are starting fresh," Walls said. "Forget about what happened last week. This is the jury."
Although the case has received only minimal media attention, Menendez is the first sitting senator to face a corruption trial in decades. He stands accused of using his office to do favors for a Florida dentist, Dr. Salomon Melgen, regularly over the course of seven years, in return for million-dollar campaign donations. According to prosecutors, Menendez lobbied the State Department to provide visas for Melgen's foreign girlfriends, and even tried to help Melgen avoid a Medicare fraud investigation.
In return, prosecutors allege, Melgen gave generously to Menendez's PACs and campaigns.
But over nearly a week of deliberations, the jury repeatedly showed signs of disagreement. Early in the process, jurors demanded that the court define the term "Senator" and provide a detailed transcript of the defense's closing arguments — ostensibly because the defense argued that Menendez could not have engaged in a pay-for-play for Melgen because Melgen is from Florida, and Menendez represents the citizens of New Jersey.
A dismissed juror — juror #8 — also told media last week that there were "fights" among jurors and that she predicted a hung jury. "(Prosecutors) just didn't show me enough, and I just wish I wasn't going on vacation. I would've been fighting in that jury room," the juror told CNN. She also told the news network she was among the most aggressive, and that she felt other jurors were trying to "run out the clock" on her pre-planned vacation so that they could deliberate without her.
If jurors are unable to reach a verdict, Walls may declare a mistrial — a result which does not leave Menendez off the hook. The prosecution will likely bring the case a second time, empanel a new jury, and try the case again.