“At Menendez Trial, Legal Wrestling Over Definition of ‘Constituent’”


The prosecution, citing Black’s Law Dictionary, argued in a brief filed on Tuesday that “the straightforward answer is that Senator Menendez’s constituents are the New Jerseyans that he was elected to represent in the United States Senate.”

But the defense, in a brief that was also filed Tuesday, claimed that the term was significantly amorphous and that wrestling with its meaning was “not a legal question for the court to answer” but rather one for the jury to determine, “because the word potentially bears on defendants’ state of mind.”

In its argument, the defense pointed to the lack of an existing legal or constitutional definition of the term, and sought to differentiate among the people represented by a senator.

“In particular, Senator Menendez’s attention to cultural minorities and underrepresented communities, particularly Hispanic-Americans, as well as immigration issues generally, exemplifies his focus on ethnic constituencies and issue constituencies whose members are not limited to New Jersey residents,” according to the defense’s brief, which was submitted by lawyers for Mr. Menendez and Dr. Melgen.

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