POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Attorneys for Kelly, Baroni seek to overturn Bridgegate convictions

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

The Bridgegate case got a good airing out this morning in Philadelphia in front of a three-judge federal panel. Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni were there to hear the arguments.

Their attorneys conceded that what they did to tie up traffic at the George Washington Bridge was wrong, but argued that it wasn’t a crime.

One of the charges on which a jury convicted them is that they violated people’s civil rights by interfering with traffic.

Kelly’s lawyer Yaakov Roth argued, “The right to intrastate travel is not clearly established.”

The judges noted their own court, the 3rd Circuit, established such a right years ago, but agreed there is no Supreme Court precedent.

Another charge was that Kelly and Baroni misapplied public resources, in this case the Port Authority’s bridge, to private purposes.

Kelly’s lawyer argued, “nothing was diverted to private use.” He said this wasn’t like a mayor ordering town employees to pave his driveway. There was no personal gain.

Baroni’s lawyer Michael Levy said, “This was nasty politics, but you can’t let federal prosecutors come in and decide that that’s a crime.”

It’s been four and half years since the two former Christie aides tied up traffic on the George Washington Bridge to get back at Fort Lee’s mayor for not endorsing Chris Christie’s re-election. It’s been three years since they were indicted.

“It’s been a struggle,” said a person close to Kelly, “and it still is a struggle.”

The judges were well-versed on the case. The lawyers, including the government prosecutor, were impressive.

The hearing was supposed to last one hour, but it went longer than two. The judges reserved decision on whether or not they would affirm the conviction.