Menendez jury resumes talks as judge mulls new instructions

Jurors in the bribery trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and a wealthy friend could hear new instructions from the judge Wednesday as they resume deliberations.

The panel finished Tuesday without reaching a unanimous verdict on any of the 18 counts against the New Jersey Democrat and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.

Deliberations began last week, but the jury restarted Monday after a juror was excused for a previously scheduled vacation and was replaced by an alternate. Jurors sent a note to U.S. District Judge William Walls at the end of the day Monday saying they were deadlocked, but he told them to keep going and to “take as much time as you need.”

Walls could instruct them when they return Wednesday morning that they can reach a verdict on some counts but not others. He also could give them what is referred to as an Allen charge, named after the defendant in a more than century-old case. It is given to a deadlocked jury and urges jurors who are voting against the majority to reconsider their positions to avoid a mistrial.

In arguments with attorneys after the jury left for the day Tuesday, Walls said he has not “come close” to giving an Allen charge in his years on the bench.

Defense attorneys also told Walls that they want him to convey to the jury that a deadlock can be an acceptable outcome as well, something they said he did not do in his instructions earlier in the day. At that time, Walls told jurors, “do not hesitate to re-examine your own views” but also “do not surrender your honest conviction as to the weight or effect of evidence solely…

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