Sen. Bob Menendez, indicted in April on 14 corruption charges, had his request to move the trial from Newark, N.J. to Washington, D.C. denied Tuesday by a district judge.
Menendez’s legal team claims the alleged criminal acts occurred in Washington and many of the possible witnesses are in D.C. so therefore the trial should be there, according to The Associated Press. They also said having the trial in New Jersey could affect his ability to perform duties in the Senate.
The request is unusual because when a member of Congress is indicted and their trial is to take place in Washington, D.C. they often attempt to have the trial moved to their home state or district because constituents may be more sympathetic. These requests are typically granted.
District Judge William Walls heard arguments Tuesday afternoon in New Jersey but ended up rejecting the senator’s request, Politico reports.
“The Court has no reason to believe that New Jersey’s jury pool will demonstrate more partisanship or bias than a jury pool in Washington,” Walls said. “Despite the number of witnesses in Washington, the practical inconvenience of traveling to Newark from Washington is little. The cities are about an hour apart by flight, three plus hours by train, and four hours by car or bus.”
Menendez received gifts and trips totaling close to a $1 million from Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen. The senator claims he is a close friend of the doctor and he has never done Melgen any political favors in exchange for his gifts.