Feds want judge to deny media request for bridge case filing
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to deny a request by media organizations including The Associated Press to make public a list of unindicted coconspirators in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case.
The media organizations went to court last month seeking the list of people prosecutors believe were involved, but not charged, in the conspiracy to close traffic lanes for political retribution in New Jersey. The list had been submitted by prosecutors to defense lawyers and the judge.
Prosecutors said in a filing Tuesday that the government often doesn’t charge every individual whom there is evidence to suggest was involved, including if there isn’t enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Two former Christie allies, Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly, have pleaded not guilty in the case. Former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official David Wildstein pleaded guilty. Christie, who ended his 2016 presidential campaign last week, has repeatedly denied any prior knowledge of the scheme, and a taxpayer-funded report he commissioned absolved him of wrongdoing.
The media filing says the public has a right to know about the prosecutors’ list because the people on it likely are public employees or appointed officials. They also argued that the allegations may have affected Christie’s since-ended presidential campaign.
Federal prosecutors said in response that Department of Justice policy directs them to avoid unnecessary public references to wrongdoing by uncharged third parties because they don’t have the opportunity to challenge that information in court.
They say they released the information to defense lawyers because “evidence relating to even uncharged coconspirators may take on significance at a conspiracy trial.”
“However, the coconspirator designation has no evidentiary value at this juncture of the criminal matter,” prosecutors said. “It will become relevant, if at all, only at trial_for example, if the Government moves for the admission of an out-of-court statement made in furtherance of the conspiracy by an unindicted coconspirator” under federal evidence rules.
The media organizations have until next Friday to respond.
The Port Authority said in a separate filing late Tuesday that confidential and redacted documents also shouldn’t be released. The Port Authority argued the documents include memos and emails about its legal representation in an unrelated matter.
Information from: NJ.com, http://www.nj.com