Judge Benchslaps Lawyer In Senator's Corruption Case: 'Shut Up For A Moment'

Opening statements are being delayed in the corruption trial of U.S. Sen Bob Menendez, but that hasn't lowered the tension in the courtroom between the judge and the defense. "If Democrats don't call for a convicted felon to resign immediately and instead force taxpayers to keep paying his salary, that's a debate we're ready to have".

The defense lawyer and judge started going back and forth, and at points talking over each other, culminating in Judge Walls interjecting, "Shut up for a moment if you don't mind".

"If the senator wishes to absent himself at times for purposes of vote, that is his prerogative and I have no problem with that", Walls said during a hearing last month.

First, due to a ruling by U.S. District Judge William Walls, who is presiding over the trial, Menendez will be unable to vote in the United States Senate during the trial, which will not be delayed to accomodate the schedule of Senate votes. Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska was the last sitting USA senator to go on trial.

Menendez was supported by his fellow US senator from New Jersey, Cory A. Booker, who sat behind the defense table during opening arguments. The judge said he was not privy to special, or "preferential treatment" simply because he was a USA senator. Booker was in court on Wednesday to support him.

Menendez's trial is expected to last six to eight weeks in Newark, New Jersey.

On the same day that a $300,000 check from Melgen arrived at a Menendez political-action committee June 7, 2012, Menendez met with CMS's highest-ranking official and pressed the agency to "change the reimbursement policy leading to the $8.9 million repayment demand", the feds say. After the federal investigation of him became public, Menendez reimbursed Melgen $58,000 for travel, calling his failure to disclose the flights an "oversight".

Prosecutors allege that the "bribery scheme" began shortly after Menendez was elected to the Senate in 2006.

United Nations watchdog finds Iran is sticking to nuclear deal
Although Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany also signed on to the pact, Iran and the U.S. were the key players. IAEA officials reported that they would not be going on a "fishing expedition" to find Iran guilty of noncompliance.

Walls also chided defense attorneys for filing a motion on what to include in jury instructions at the end of the trial.

Prosecutors at the U.S. Department of Justice claim Menendez flexed his political muscle to help friend and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen obtain a shipping contract; get immigrant visas for Melgen's girlfriends; and sort out a Medicare billing dispute at Melgen's ophthalmology practice.

The judge and attorney began to argue.

Opening statements were delayed Wednesday to seat one regular juror and two alternate jurors.

"Never, not once have I dishonored my public office", Menendez said before his trial.

Menendez has vehemently denied the allegations.

If that happens, it falls on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to pick Menendez's successor.

  • Megan Austin