Menendez’s lawyers alleged that U.S. District Judge William Walls abused his discretion by not letting jurors see evidence that would contradict the prosecution’s case, The Associated Press reported.
The filing says specifically that Walls “deprived Defendants of their Fifth and Sixth Amendments rights to a fair trial, to an adequate defense, and to confront the witnesses against them.”
But Walls criticized the defense, saying “there’s not even palpable merit to what you wish,” the AP reported.
Walls also said the defense failed “to acknowledge that they are bound by the rules of evidence.”
Menendez is on trial on corruption charges related to him receiving free flights from political donor Salomon Melgen.
Prosecutors allege that Melgen used flights on his private jets to curry favor with Menendez to assist with Medicare fraud charges Melgen was facing as well as grant visas to Melgen’s girlfriends.
Menendez’s lawyers said they should have been allowed to introduce a document on Medicare’s website that would have helped show the senator was focused on Medicare reimbursement policies when he met with health officials and not on helping Melgen.
Similarly, the senator’s lawyers claim that prominent Democratic lawyer Marc Elias should have been allowed to testify. Elias represented Menendez from 2012 to 2013 when he was being investigated by a Senate ethics committee.
Elias, who was supposed to testify Thursday but the judge wouldn’t allow him to, would have told jurors that Menendez’s flight was being reviewed, attorneys said. This would contradict the prosecution’s contention that Menendez tried to conceal the flight information, the senator’s attorneys said.
“Defendants’ concerns are typified by the Court’s parting words at the hearing: ‘Life is not fair and so too is judicial discretion,’” the defense wrote in its motion. “Despite the light-hearted nature of the Court’s comment, the fact remains that judicial discretion must be exercised fairly, otherwise, by definition, it is an abuse of discretion.”
But Walls dismissed the complaints, saying “it’s a question for this court to determine when enough is enough.”