Recipients of Legislative Subpoenas Retain Legal Counsel

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

The recipients of legislative subpoenas are lawyering up.

Port Authority Chairman David Samson has hired former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, a titan of the New Jersey legal world.

Former Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni has hired former prosecutor Michael Himmel of the firm Lowenstein, Sandler.

Christie Campaign Manager Bill Stepien is being represented by former Deputy Public Advocate Kevin Marino.

Bridget Kelly has retained another well-known former prosecutor — Wally Timpone.

And of course former Port Authority official David Wildstein has already appeared with his attorney Alan Zegas, a past president of the New Jersey Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

“I’d say it’s a defense dream team, but they are very experienced, very well regarded white collar defense attorneys in New Jersey,” New Jersey Law Journal Editor Ron Fleury said.

Fleury says Chertoff in particular has a stunning resume.

“Former director of Homeland security, former federal appeals judge, former head of the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey and before that working for Rudy Giuliani in New York in the same capacity. Former whitewater committee counsel,” said Fleury.

The governor’s office, meanwhile, has retained Randy Mastro to help it deal with the several investigations. Mastro — of New York’s Gibson, Crutcher, and Dunn — is a Rudy Giuliani insider.

What does it mean that people mentioned in emails are starting to retain lawyers?

“It means they’re smart to hire the best they can find. I think it’s clear that money is no object when you’re faced with something of this magnitude, potential criminal liability. I can’t think of for each of these choices, its hard to imagine someone better being picked,” said Fleury.

The state Assembly also has hired a special counsel, Reid Schar, an Illinois lawyer who helped prosecute a former governor there, to lead its investigation here.

“It’s one of a kind. We’ve never seen something that hit so hard the heart of any administration as this and that involved so many high level people quite so quickly,” said Fleury.

The subpoenas so far are for documents only. Who might be called to testify is a separate question.