Judge will rule next week on Christie bridge case complaint

AP News
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Posted: Feb 02, 2017 12:17 PM

HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) — A former firefighter's criminal misconduct complaint against Republican Gov. Chris Christie over the George Washington Bridge lane closing scandal received new life Thursday when a judge said he would rule by next week on whether there is probable cause for the case to go forward.

Municipal Judge Roy McGeady's decision follows last week's announcement by the Bergen County prosecutor's office that it wouldn't proceed with William Brennan's complaint, in which he accuses the governor of knowing about the alleged political retaliation plot against a Democratic mayor, but did nothing to stop it.

McGeady said after a brief hearing that Brennan "has the right to have his complaint decided on the merits" and that the prosecutor's office didn't have the right to dismiss the complaint as yet.

Neither Christie nor his attorney, Craig Carpenito, attended the hearing. The judge noted at the hearing that Carpenito had written a letter asking him not to hold the proceeding. He said Carpenito argued that there was no valid complaint or summons pending and that the hearing was non-binding.

On another issue, McGeady denied Brennan's request to have a special prosecutor appointed to the case.

Brennan had argued for a special prosecutor, saying that the state attorney general's office and any county prosecutor's office would have a conflict of interest since they owe their jobs to the governor.

He said Thursday he planned to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Last fall, McGeady issued a finding of probable cause for the complaint to proceed, but a higher court sent the case back to him after ruling that Christie should have been represented at the initial hearing and Brennan should have been subject to cross-examination.

Two former Christie aides were convicted of federal charges in November. Brennan based his complaint on testimony during that trial, which he says shows Christie lied about when he knew about the alleged plot or its motives. Christie didn't testify at the federal trial.

Christie has denied prior knowledge of the plot and has not been charged in the bridge scandal.