NEWARK - The defendants in the Bridge-Gate scandal were in Newark Federal Court Wednesday for pretrial hearings Wednesday, five days before the trial is expected to begin.
Bill Baroni, a former Port Authority official, and Bridget Kelly, a former aide to Gov. Chris Christie, are accused of orchestrating the closure of traffic lanes in Fort Lee that lead to the George Washington Bridge. This was supposedly done to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie’s re-election campaign. The lane closures caused massive traffic jams in the town for several days.
At Wednesday’s hearing, the defense attorneys were trying to block some evidence expected to be presented to the jury, but the judge did not rule in their favor.
The attorney for Baroni wanted to block a video of his client testifying to lawmakers in 2013 about the lane-closing scandal. In the video, Baroni allegedly gives false information while testifying. The judge said the video will be admissible.
The attorneys also debated over some witnesses expected to testify.
Former Port Authority official David Wildstein has already pleaded guilty in the case. He took a plea deal in exchange for his testimony. The defense says that they want the jury to be notified that Wildstein took a deal so that his guilty plea doesn't stain their clients.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is also expected to testify. Fulop says that he also faced backlash from the Christie administration when he refused to endorse Gov. Christie’s re-election.
Baroni’s attorney did not want Fulop to testify, but an attorney for Kelly says that since the backlash against Fulop did not result in criminal charges, the cases should be treated equally.
“They're clearly saying the allegations as they relate to Fulop are not criminal,” says attorney Michael Critchley “So I’m trying to compare criminal allegations with a noncriminal allegation.”
Gov. Christie has said that he will testify if he is subpoenaed, but it is not clear if he will be called.
Jury selection for the trial is expected to begin Sept. 12. Opening arguments are expected for Sept. 19.