Is Retrial Kicking a Dead Horse?
Federal prosecutors seem intent on kicking a dead horse -- no disrespect intended to Sen. Bob Menendez.
But Menendez, who had a lock on re-election until the government came after him, was nearly acquitted in a federal corruption case that ended in a mistrial last year. Now the Department of Justice wants to retry him, and his Senate situation is precarious even if he beats the charges again.
Is it politics if he is a Democrat fighting a Republican administration? Or is it just another lesson in American justice?
Jurors deadlocked 10-2 in the first trial against Menendez on bribery and fraud charges. According to reports, 10 jurors voted to acquit.
Prosecutors called him the "personal senator" to Dr. Salomon Melgen, alleging the two traded government favors for lavish gifts and other benefits. Jurors could not agree, and prosecutors are hoping for better results on retrial.
It took them more than two years to get their case to trial the first time. They apparently believe they have all the evidence they need for a retrial because they want the "earliest possible" trial date this time.
"The United States files this notice of intent to retry the defendants and requests that the Court set the case for retrial at the earliest possible date," AnnaLou Tirol, acting chief of the department's public integrity section, informed the court.
Kirk Ogrosky, an attorney for Melgen, said he was "very disappointed" with the government's decision.
"Anyone who watched the testimony, reviewed the exhibits, and spoke to the jurors and the alternates in the first trial knows that this prosecution was ridiculous and should never have been brought," he said.
The defendants escaped convictions, but the Washington Post reported that the Democrats also "dodged a bullet" in Menendez' case. Had he been convicted, they would have lost a seat in the Senate.
Even though Menendez survived to fight another day, he is facing a re-election campaign that will be harder fought with bribery charges still pending against him. If the government attorneys lose again, however, they may face some tough questions about how they spent government funds.
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