Day 1 yields several jurors for trial of Sen. Bob Menendez

Posted: Updated:

By DAVID PORTER
Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Jury selection in the corruption trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez concluded Tuesday with several panelists seated after the first day of questioning by attorneys.

Several jurors were seated by the end of the day. The process will continue Wednesday to pick the 12 jurors and four alternates who will sit on the trial. Opening arguments are scheduled for Sept. 6 for what is expected to be a two-month trial.

Menendez was indicted in 2015, charged with accepting campaign donations and gifts, which included vacation trips to Paris and the Dominican Republic from eye doctor Salomon Melgen. In exchange, according to the indictment, Menendez used his position in Congress to lobby for Melgen's business interests.

Melgen, who lives in Florida, and Menendez have argued in court papers that the gifts and donations were innocent and that there was no bribery agreement. Menendez also claims his actions were legitimate legislative duties.

Tuesday began with Menendez and Melgen pleading not guilty in a closed hearing to a superseding, or updated, indictment that was filed last fall by the government after U.S. District Judge William Walls dismissed two bribery counts against each defendant.

While the proceeding was routine, the exclusion of the public and media was not. Except in rare cases, such as when the identity of a government informant must be kept secret, defendants enter guilty or not-guilty pleas in open court.

Walls didn't give an explanation for closing the courtroom.

Melgen was convicted in April on multiple counts of Medicare fraud in a separate trial. Menendez wasn't implicated in that case, but part of the indictment charges him with interceding on behalf of Melgen in a Medicare dispute.

The government's case centers on meetings and interactions Menendez had with, among others, then-Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and acting Medicare administrator Marilyn Tavenner.

Jurors will have to weigh whether those fall under the category of "official acts" under a law whose definitions have shifted in the wake of a 2016 Supreme Court ruling in the case of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell.

If Menendez is convicted and steps down or is forced out of the Senate before Gov. Chris Christie leaves office Jan. 16, the Republican would pick a successor. It would take a two-thirds majority vote to remove him from the Senate. His seat is up for election next November.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy has a large lead in polls ahead of his Republican challenger in the race to replace Christie.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Top StoriesTop StoriesMore>>

  • News

    Woman impaled by beach umbrella at Jersey Shore

    Woman impaled by beach umbrella at Jersey Shore

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 6:02 AM EDT2018-07-17 10:02:09 GMT
    Woman impaled by beach umbrella at Jersey ShoreWoman impaled by beach umbrella at Jersey Shore
    Woman impaled by beach umbrella at Jersey ShoreWoman impaled by beach umbrella at Jersey Shore

    Police say a London woman was impaled by a beach umbrella at Seaside Heights.

    Police say a London woman was impaled by a beach umbrella at Seaside Heights.

  • Strong, severe thunderstorms expected Tuesday afternoon

    Strong, severe thunderstorms expected Tuesday afternoon

    Strong and severe thunderstorms are expected to impact parts of New Jersey Tuesday.Strong and severe thunderstorms are expected to impact parts of New Jersey Tuesday.

    A flood watch has been issued for most of northern and central New Jersey as strong and severe thunderstorms are expected to impact parts of the state.

    A flood watch has been issued for most of northern and central New Jersey as strong and severe thunderstorms are expected to impact parts of the state.

  • News

    Massive fire rips through multiple businesses in Passaic

    Massive fire rips through multiple businesses in Passaic

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 5:50 AM EDT2018-07-17 09:50:42 GMT
    Massive fire rips through multiple businesses in PassaicMassive fire rips through multiple businesses in Passaic
    Massive fire rips through multiple businesses in PassaicMassive fire rips through multiple businesses in Passaic

    It was a difficult night for firefighters not only battling the flames, but also the heat following a massive fire that ripped through multiple businesses in Passaic.

    It was a difficult night for firefighters not only battling the flames, but also the heat following a massive fire that ripped through multiple businesses in Passaic.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."