Unsealed bridge case document shows juror sought dismissal
Posted April 14
NEWARK, N.J. — Defense attorneys in the George Washington Bridge lane-closure case sought a mistrial ruling after a juror called the case "overwhelming" and asked to be dismissed, according to newly unsealed documents.
Attorneys for Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly in November asked U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton to declare a mistrial when a juror sought to be removed from the panel. At the time, it wasn't clear why the mistrial was requested.
The 12-person jury handed down guilty verdicts in November for Baroni and Kelly on fraud and conspiracy charges stemming from the politically motivated 2013 scheme to punish a Democratic mayor who didn't endorse Republican Gov. Chris Christie's re-election bid.
The documents unsealed this week included nearly two dozen items numbering hundreds of pages, a number of which included redactions.
The unidentified juror sought the dismissal without the defendants being present, as required, according to attorney Michael Baldassare in a partially redacted letter sent to the judge on behalf of Baroni and Kelly.
"The juror stated that (he or she) felt (he or she) could remain 'fair and impartial in the room, but it's all the other aspects that are feeling overwhelming for me,'" Baldassare wrote. Baldassare called the judge's conversation with the juror prejudicial.
Bill Baroni, Christie's appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was sentenced to two years in prison, and Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, was sentenced to 18 months. Both must also serve 500 hours of community service.
Baroni and Kelly have filed notices that they will appeal the verdicts.
Christie was not charged with any wrongdoing in the federal case, and he denied any prior knowledge of the plot. State prosecutors have declined to pursue a citizen's criminal complaint lodged against him, but questions remain over how much he knew about the plot.