Judge blocks Menendez request to delay trial for Senate votes

Judge blocks Menendez request to delay trial for Senate votes
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A judge has denied a request from Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) to delay his corruption trial so he can cast votes in the Senate, calling the request "nigh frivolous."

"Defendant Menendez, granted, as are all defendants, with the presumption of innocence, need not appear in court if he does not wish or wants to be absent," Judge William H. Walls said in his reply to Menedez's legal team. 

"He may voluntarily absent himself. This is his prerogative. All defendants have that right. Such right is not new nor recent. Practically speaking, during any absence his lawyers will be present to maintain his interests. The motion — from a practical perspective — is nigh frivolous," he continued. 

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Menendez argued the request was justified by "common sense."

Prosecutors, in turn argued that "no defendant should receive special treatment based on power or privilege." 

The senator's attorneys filed a motion on Thursday to adjourn the trial on days when the Senate casts votes. 

The Democratic senator is charged with accepting lavish gifts, campaign donations and vacations from his co-defendant Salomon Melgen, in return for using his influence to personally and financially benefit Melgen. 

Menendez and Melgen have pleaded not guilty.