The federal judge overseeing the bribery trail of Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.) on Monday denied a mistrial motion filed by attorneys for the senator and his longtime friend, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.
In the motion filed over the weekend, Menendez and Melgen's defense attorneys accused U.S. District Judge William Walls of treating their clients unfairly with his evidence rulings during the first eight weeks of the ongoing trial, the Associated Press reported.
Walls rebuked the defense's claim that his rulings have "deprived Defendants of their Fifth and Sixth Amendments rights to a fair trial, to an adequate defense, and to confront the witnesses against them." The judge castigated the attorneys for "failing to acknowledge that they are bound by the rules of evidence."
"There's not even palpable merit to what you wish," Walls added.
Defense attorneys alleged in their motion that Walls has not sufficiently let them introduce witnesses or evidence to prove their case, while the judge has said the evidence is irrelevant or repetitive, distracting from the central question of whether "a bribery arrangement existed," the AP noted.
Walls has previously denied motions from the defense to have charges dismissed in Menendez's trial.
Prosecutors are arguing that Menendez accepted free flights on a private jet and other gifts from Melgen in exchange for political influence. Melgen was found guilty in April for committing Medicare fraud in a separate case.
The defense is expected to rest its case this week, which would be followed by closing arguments. Both Menendez and Melgen face charges of honest services fraud, which carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence, among other charges.