(CN) – A federal judge on Thursday denied Sen. Bob Menendez’s request to delay his corruption trial so he can cast votes in the Senate.
U.S. District Judge William Walls said the motion, “from a practical perspective … is nigh frivolous.” “Under the circumstances advanced by defendant Menendez, the court will not serve as a concierge to any party or lawyer,” Walls added.
“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,” Walls write. “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.”
Lawyers for the Menendez had argued that given the senator’s responsibilities in Washington, his upcoming trial should be adjourned on days when the Senate casts votes.
But prosecutors, argued “no defendant should receive special treatment based on power or privilege.”
In rejecting the request, Menendez said he was doing no more than “applying the principle that ‘no man in this country is so high that he is above the law.’”
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.