New Jersey ‘Bridgegate’ defendants file for new trial

Convicted after a six-week trial on Nov. 4, attorneys for a pair of former aides to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who were involved in the “Bridgegate” scandal filed motions in federal court on Friday seeking a new trial.

One week prior, former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey deputy, Bill Baroni, were convicted on 20 counts of conspiracy, fraud and civil rights violations.

The two face the possibility of serving up to 20 years in prison.

Kelly and Baroni were found guilty for their role in conspiring to close traffic on the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 over Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich’s refusal to endorse Christie’s gubernatorial reelection bid.

The lane closures caused widespread traffic delays in Bergen County, N.J.

Although the legal motions filed Friday did not reveal specifics of the demand for a new trial, it is speculated Kelly and Baroni’s lawyers will contend the presiding judge in the first trial, Judge Susan Wigenton, erred in issuing instructions to jurors.

Judge Wigenton’s guidance included the instruction jury members were not obligated to draw the conclusion Kelly and Baroni intended to penalize Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich with their actions in order to find the pair guilty of conspiracy.

Both Kelly and Baroni’s attorneys, Michael Critchley and Michael Baldassare, protested Wigenton’s instructions to jurors in a heated meeting after jurors in deliberations sought clarification.

Following her interpretation of rules to jurors, Judge Wigenton was asked to reconsider her instruction by Kelly attorney Michael Critchley; Wigenton’s rejected the request.

Governor Christie has denied knowledge of the entire affair.


[Politico] [Photo courtesy AP/Julio Cortez  via Talking Points Memo]