11th hour motion seeks to block release of Bridgegate co-conspirator names

By Tim Darragh | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on May 12, 2016

With the clock running out on a deadline requiring federal prosecutors to release a list of unindicted co-conspirators tied to the Bridgegate scandal, an attorney for one of those individuals has moved in court to block disclosure.

 

NEWARK — Hours before a deadline ordering the release of the names of unindicted co-conspirators in the Bridgegate scandal, a motion has been filed by an attorney for one of them to keep the list from being made public.

In the late-night filing Thursday on behalf of "John Doe," identified only as one of the individuals whose name was to be released tomorrow by noon, attorney Jenny Kramer asked to intervene in the case and stay the judge's order.

Kramer, a former federal prosecutor in the same U.S. Attorney's office handling the Bridgegate case, argued the the release of her client's name "brands him as a criminal without due process of law."

Attorney Bruce Rosen of McCusker, Anselmi, Rosen & Carvelli, who represents a consortium of news organizations that won a court battle earlier this week to have the names released, said he would oppose the motion.

"We believe this is too little, too late," he said.

At issue is a list of people who federal prosecutors said had conspired in the politically motivated 2013 lane shutdowns at the George Washington Bridge, or in the subsequent cover-up, but were not charged.

The U.S. Attorney's office last year brought indictments against two former associates of Gov. Chris Christie, charging that they used the bridge as a vehicle for political retribution with the intent to cause massive traffic tie-ups in Fort Lee after the Democratic mayor there declined to endorse Christie for re-election. But in court documents filed in preparation for the trial of William Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Bridget Anne Kelly, the governor's former deputy chief of staff, defense attorneys learned there was a list of other individuals who played a role in the conspiracy, but were not charged in the case.

Media organizations, including NJ Advance Media, went to court seeking the disclosure of those names, identified only as public employees and elected or public officials.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton agreed the public had a right to know who else might have been involved in the scandal, setting a deadline of noon on Friday for prosecutors to release the names.

"There is very little that is private about the lane closures or the lives of the people allegedly connected to them," said Wigenton in her decision. "Further, individuals thus far identified as being involved in the lane closings have been public employees and/or elected and appointed officials."

She said while privacy for third-parties was important in criminal cases, "this court is satisfied that the privacy interests of uncharged third parties are insufficiently compelling to outweigh the public's right of access."

But in her filing late Thursday, Kramer asked Wigenton to postpone the release of the names. The motion asks the judge to suspend her order and that "John Doe" be allowed to remain anonymous, seeking to file a full set of legal briefings and in-court arguments about why the names should not be made public.

If Wigenton disagrees, "John Doe" said he would seek to stay her May 10 ruling, pending appeal.

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