LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

News Outlets Demand Access to Bridgegate Trial Material

No verdict yet in the Bridgegate trial. But out of ear-shot of deliberating jurors, there was courtroom action. Cameras are not allowed in federal court, but NJTV News Correspondent David Cruz was there monitoring the proceeding. He spoke with Anchor Mary Alice Williams.

Williams: So what happened today David?

Cruz: Mary Alice, hi. Good evening everybody. That’s right. Most of the action took place behind the scenes today. The jury has gone home for the day. Three motions today, all from the defense. The first is from the defense asking the judge to re-instruct the jury. Remember yesterday the judge told the jury that they could convict the defendants even if they didn’t think that the motive for closing the lanes in the GWB was revenge or to punish Mark Sokolich. The second was a motion for a mistrial. This is actually the second motion for a mistrial, the first one that was formally on paper. We believe the mistrial motion is based on the jury charge question, but we don’t know that because the motion is so redacted. In fact, aside from the first line, the entire motion is redacted. It looks like a bar scan. And then the third motion came this afternoon, late in the afternoon, the defense again asked the judge to direct the jury to disregard testimony regarding Steve Fulop. He’s the mayor of Jersey City who, as you know, had a series of meetings with the administration of Chris Christie canceled because he refused to endorse the governor. And so Michael Baldassare’s letter in that regard makes reference to the judge’s instructions to the jury. He says references to Fulop are linked to the motive to punish, which the jury has been told don’t matter. And so they’re saying that the judge should then, as a result of that, disregard the testimony or at least instruct the jury to disregard the testimony regarding Steve Fulop.

Williams: David, reporters have been complaining about secrecy? What’s going on with that?

Cruz: Yeah, you know, this afternoon, Mary Alice, a group of news organizations, including NJTV, filed a brief in federal court demanding access to not only that redacted mistrial motion, but also transcripts of closed off proceedings yesterday. You have to imagine inside there’s maybe 25, 30 reporters in the hallway all kind of sprawled everywhere. And so yesterday there were about six instances where they were called an asked to line up. You have to line up against the wall. And six times they were told that they couldn’t get into the courtroom and they couldn’t be told what was going on inside the courtroom. And so the motion today is saying that listen, this is a First Amendment right. And the judge says that all this secrecy is based on the need to have a fair trial for everybody.

Williams: All right. Thank you David Cruz.