Following an October 2016 decision by a Bergen County, N.J., judge who ruled enough probable cause existed for an official misconduct complaint lodged against Governor Chris Christie to advance, a Superior Court judge refused to dismiss the suit on Thursday.
Christie faces a complaint filed by retired firefighter and community organizer Bill Brennan, who claims the governor was aware of a scandal orchestrated by top aides to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge in 2013.
Brennan recently announced his intent to run for governor of New Jersey later this year.
In her decision Thursday, Bergen County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Mizdol rejected pleas entered by Gov. Christie’s lawyers to dismiss the suit, but Mizdol returned the case to a lower court for review.
Mizdol issued her ruling after Municipal Judge Roy McGeady denied Christie’s attorneys the right to cross-examine Mr. Brennan during a hearing to establish probable cause. McGeady had argued Christie’s attorneys had no legal basis for cross-examination of Brennan because Christie was not considered a defendant at the time.
“Defendant was improperly denied counsel at a critical stage,” Mizdol wrote in her opinion.
Known as “Bridgegate,” two top aides to the governor were convicted in the scandal in late 2016. Although Christie has emerged relatively unscathed from the controversy, a former Port Authority official testified at trial of his “multiple” conversations with the convicted aides and implicated the governor himself.
No date has been set for the new hearing and the governor’s office had no comment on the judge’s decision.
[Reuters] [Photo courtesy Mel Evans/AP via NBC News]