NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Prospective jurors returned to U.S. District Court in Newark Tuesday for questioning in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing trial.
As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, defendants Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly smiled warmly as they were introduced to potential jurors by their lawyers. The attorneys then had a chance to drill down potential biases.
An initial group of more than 200 will be pared down to 12 plus alternates. They filled out questionnaires last week, and on Tuesday attorneys will use their responses to gauge whether they can be impartial.
Baroni and Kelly, both former allies of Republican Gov. Chris Christie, were indicted last year on multiple charges that they caused gridlock near the bridge in 2013 to punish a Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse Christie’s re-election bid.
Kelly was Christie’s deputy chief of staff and Baroni was a top executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge.
Two access lanes to the bridge were closed for five days. The lane closures came during the week of the Sept. 11 observance and the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
Attorneys for the two defendants said Monday that their clients will take the stand in their own defense.
David Wildstein, Christie’s former Port Authority appointee, said that he – along with Baroni and Kelly – hatched up the plan to punish Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for declining to endorse Christie for reelection.
Fort Lee manages the access lanes commuters use to cut through.
Wildstein claimed Christie knew about the plan, though the governor has denied involvement.
Kelly sent the now-infamous email, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
Christie wasn’t charged and has denied knowing about the plot. The governor hasn’t been charged in the case but he could be subpoenaed to testify.
Baroni and Kelly could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Opening statement in the case are set for Sept. 19.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)