List of Unindicted Co-Conspirators in ‘Bridgegate’ Kept Under Seal

     TRENTON, N.J. (CN) — A federal judge postponed releasing the secret list of unindicted co-conspirators involved in the Bridgegate scandal, though a different judge already delayed last week’s scheduled release to today.
     The order Tuesday by U.S. Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro emphasizes the intense scrutiny over the list, which could contain names of New Jersey political officials as well as former or current officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
     Ambro’s ruling comes after one of the alleged co-conspirators filed an emergency motion Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to oppose the list’s release on the grounds that it would violate his due process rights.
     U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton had ordered the names released on May 11.
     The Bridgegate scandal erupted in 2013 after the shutdown of several lanes leading into the George Washington Bridge snarled traffic for five days.
     Bridget Anne Kelly and William Baroni Jr. face criminal conspiracy and fraud charges in connection to the shutdown. Prosecutors say they engineered the lane closures as political payback to the Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who had not endorsed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in his re-election bid.
     At the time of the shutdown, Kelly served as deputy chief of staff for Christie and Baroni was deputy executive director of the Port Authority.
     Another Port Authority official, David Wildstein, has pleaded guilty for his role in the shutdown.
     The list of unindicted co-conspirators came to light during that trial, having been mentioned in a legal document.
     Media outlets including North Jersey Media Group, the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal and NBCUniversal filed the suit to unseal the list.
     In supporting their efforts last week, Wigenton said “there is very little that is private about the lane closures or the lives of the people allegedly connected to them.”
     The motion for intervention by one of the unindicted co-conspirators came shortly thereafter. Proceeding by a pseudonym, the movant is known only as John Doe in court records.
     “If the government releases the conspirator letter, [Doe’s] constitutional rights against being branded with a ‘badge of infamy’ through criminal accusations he has no means to contesting will be forfeit,” Kramer wrote, noting that the Third Circuit had jurisdiction over Wigenton to decide the issue.
     Media companies responded on May 16 that they would be willing to permit redaction of Doe’s name from the co-conspirator list.
     Jenny Kramer, an attorney for Doe with Chadbourne & Parke, wrote in a May 13 letter that releasing the list would be a “due process violation” as it would deny her client (and others) the chance to clear their names in court.
     Both Kelly and Baroni had sided with media companies and called for the list to be made public, insinuating that others in Christie’s office and elsewhere who knew about the lane shutdowns.
     Doe’s lawyer must file briefs explaining the merits of why the list must be kept secret by May 23. The media outlets have until May 27 to file their briefs explaining why the list should be released. The Third Circuit has scheduled oral arguments on June 6 as to whether the list will be released at all.

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