POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Prosecution rests in sixth week of Menendez corruption trial

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

After six weeks and more than 30 witnesses, the prosecution finally rested its case Wednesday. And then the real arguments began, after the defense motioned for a dismissal of all the charges against Menendez and co-defendant, Dr. Salomon Melgen.

Here’s what happened during the day.

The defense, in a fourth day of cross examination of FBI Agent Alan Mohl, tried repeatedly to get him to interpret the meaning behind certain emails and memos pertaining to Melgen’s use of the drug Lucentis.

But, Judge William Walls interrupted the defense a dozen times, excusing the jury repeatedly and admonishing the defense to ask appropriate questions.

“This is not a fact witness,” he said, referring to Mohl. “His job is to give us a chronology.”

 

Then, as the defense went back at it, the judge interrupted again. Exasperated, and with the jury out of the courtroom again, he laid into the defense.

“We’re being drowned in Lucentis,” he said. “I am legally sick and tired of hearing it. The merits of the controversy over the use of Lucentis is not before us. How much does the jury need to be labored with that argument? How stupid do you think the jury and the court is?”

It’s tough language, but not out of character for Judge Walls, who has been a big part of this trial.

His attempts to speed things up and keep the more salacious allegations of the case away from the jury have actually resulted in more delays as both sides argue over the admissibility of evidence.

After the jury was released for the day, the defense, as expected, motioned to have the case dismissed.

The judge agreed to hear arguments on the motion after a lengthy, and often feisty, back and forth with both defense lawyers and the government team, ending the day without making a ruling.

Although he did seem to indicate that the jury would get to decide the count regarding financial disclosure. Judge Walls also said he had more questions as to the bribery counts and asked both sides from more information.

The case is in recess until Monday, at which point, unless the judge dismisses all of the charges, the first defense team will begin making its case.