By JW Law
New Jersey’s veteran defense attorney, Rubin Sinins, was recently quoted in an Associated Press article on the verbal jousting between the U.S. District Judge William H. Walls and attorneys from both sides of the aisle in a high profile political corruption case involving Senator Bob Menendez.
Menendez, New Jersey’s Democratic senior senator, is accused of carrying out an extensive bribery scheme with a Florida-based ophthalmologist, Dr. Salomon Melgen, for several years. Just two days into the trial, Judge Walls stopped the proceedings twice to admonish attorneys about the relevance of their lines of questioning.
Walls referred to the prosecutor’s questioning of a witness as “ridiculous,” ‘’junk” and “sheer nonsense.” He also told the defense attorney to “shut up” as the two engaged in a heated argument on Wall’s opinion, where he dismissed the defense’s request to temporarily hold the trial so that Menendez could participate in “critical” votes in the Senate.
Sinins said it’s the judge’s prerogative to maintain total control over the courtroom.
“A trial judge has total control over the courtroom, and any attorney who forgets that does so at his peril,” he said.
Sinins added that the residual effect of such exchanges could affect the client’s case, even though they were made outside the presence of the jury.
“A trial is about, in large part, the attorney’s credibility in trying to convince the jury that what they’re saying is the correct version of events. If a jury senses that a judge does not respect an attorney that is devastating to the client’s case.”
To read the full article, please click: Jousting between judge, attorneys enliven Menendez trial