Bridge-Gate lane-closing trial expected to begin mid-September

A federal judge has set the date for the beginning of the Bridge-Gate lane-closing case involving two former allies of Gov. Chris Christie.

Bridget Kelly, one of the defendants in the Bridge-Gate case, arrives at Newark Federal Court for a status hearing. The trial is set to start in mid-September.

Bridget Kelly, one of the defendants in the Bridge-Gate case, arrives at Newark Federal Court for a status hearing. The trial is set to start in mid-September. (8/9/16)

NEWARK - A federal judge has set the date for the beginning of the Bridge-Gate lane-closing case involving two former allies of Gov. Chris Christie.

Jury section for the case is expected to begin on Sept. 12, with opening arguments beginning Sept. 19.

Both defendants appeared at the Newark Federal Courthouse Tuesday with their attorneys to discuss scheduling. 

Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni are charged with conspiring to create traffic jams in the town of Fort Lee by eliminating several access lanes leading up to the George Washington Bridge. This was allegedly done to punish Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie, a Republican. 

Kelly was Christie's deputy chief of staff and Baroni was a Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that operates the bridge.

A second former Port Authority official, David Wildstein, has pleaded guilty and will testify against Baroni and Kelly.

They face several counts including wire fraud and civil rights violations.

Baroni’s attorney says that he is ready for the trial.

“[Mr. Baroni] is just working very hard and looking forward to getting it over with, clearing his name and going back to his life,” says attorney Michael Baldassare.

The attorneys say they are still filing motions concerning which evidence will or will not be allowed during the trial. They say that they are trying to get access to the cellphones of the governor and some of his top aides.

Last month, a judge in the case rejected a pre-trial subpoena by the defense for the same devices. Defense attorneys say a trial subpoena has to meet a lower legal standard to succeed.

The trial is expected to last about eight weeks due to the amount of witnesses that could testify. It is not known if Gov. Christie will take the stand.

Both Baroni and Kelly have turned to online donations to help fund their defense.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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