Bridgegate Jury Leaves Court Early as Lawyers Huddle Behind Closed Doors

Matt Katz, WNYC | November 2, 2016 | Katz on Christie

The mysterious lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee have now culminated with mysterious jury deliberations at a criminal courthouse in Newark.

The third day of jury deliberations in the Bridgegate trial ended early on Wednesday, just after lunch, for an unknown reason. The jury walked out of the courthouse with no explanation given to reporters from the judge, prosecutors or defense attorneys. 

After the jury left, lawyers stayed at the courthouse, shuttling between the courtroom and conference rooms with the two defendants, Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni, in tow. Reporters were not allowed into the courtroom.

In the hallways the defense lawyers were unusually tight-lipped, refusing to say why the jury left or what they were discussing in secret with the prosecutors.

A clerk for federal court Judge Susan Wigenton said transcripts from the proceedings in the courtroom were under seal and would not be released to the press.

Among the topics that may have been discussed was a motion filed earlier in the day by Michael Critchley, Kelly’s attorney. He is seeking a reversal of a decision by Wigenton to instruct jurors that they should not consider the alleged motive in assessing guilt — that lanes were closed in order to punish the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie’s reelection. That instruction significantly lowered the bar for determining guilt, and defense attorneys are furious about it.

The jury is expected to return at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.