New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez's corruption trial turned heated Wednesday, as U.S. District Court Judge William H. Walls told the Democrat's lawyer to “shut up” during proceedings.
The tense exchange started when defense attorney Raymond Brown criticized the judge for rejecting a motion from the defense to allow the trial to be recessed when “critical” votes are scheduled in the U.S. Senate.
“Quite frankly, your honor, that language is extremely prejudicial to the defense and it comes from the court. I think the court has disparaged the defense,” the attorney said.
In his opinion, Walls said the only reason he could think of for the defense's motion would be to “impress the jurors with the public importance of the defendant Senator and his duties. No other plausible reason comes to mind.”
When Brown accused the judge of being “speculative as to our motives,” things got intense.
“Shut up for a moment if you don't mind,” Walls shot back.
The judge then added, according to Politico:
“Now I feel quasi-insulted. You tell me where I have ever speculated to affect the interest of a defendant before a jury. I want you to tell me where I have done something that reasonable jurors and lawyers would consider speculative and proactive.”
Menendez's attorney ultimately asked that the judge's remarks be struck from the opinion, a request that Walls denied.
It seems the defense isn't off to a great start with the judge.