Alleged Bridgegate participant makes last-ditch bid to shield identity
One of the unindicted co-conspirators on the verge of being identified publicly for his alleged role in the George Washington Bridge lane closures is making a last-ditch bid to block the release of the federal prosecutors' list of participants.
In a court filing made Thursday night, the person — identified as John Doe — contends he would be labeled a criminal and not be afforded a chance to defend himself if the list is put out now, rather than during the context of a criminal trial scheduled for September.
The person is represented by Jenny Kramer of the New York law firm Chadbourne and Parke. Kramer worked from 2005 to 2015 as assistant United States attorney in Newark — meaning she was hired for the job by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie and was working there when Bridgegate was being investigated.
Two people hired for government positions by Christie — deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey deputy director Bill Baroni, both of whom have since lost those jobs — have been indicted for their alleged role in the alleged political retribution scheme. Baroni's former deputy, David Wildstein, has pleaded guilty.
In the court filling, the anonymous person argues the letter "brands him as a criminal without due process of law."
- "Only by permitting Doe to intervene anonymously and staying this action
pending a hearing can the court honor his right not to be labelled a criminal without due process of law."
- "Doe’s interest undoubtedly will be affected or impaired if he is not allowed to intervene because he will have been publicly branded a felon without due process of law, causing him immediate and irreparable reputational harm."
- "Anonymity is critical to preserve his constitutional right against being branded with a 'badge of infamy' through criminal accusations he has no means of contesting."
- "While the public undoubtedly has an interest in the criminal case against (Billl) Baroni and (Bridget Anne) Kelly, it has no comparable interest in knowing Doe’s identity. To the extent any unindicted co-conspirator has taken any action relevant to the criminal case, that conduct and the actor’s identity will be learned at trial, in proper context."
- "Given this fact, the opposition by the press to any anonymous treatment cannot be legitimately motivated; rather, it is undoubtedly actuated — at least in part — for purposes of sensationalizing the misleading inferences that will be gleaned from Doe’s status as an 'unindicted co-conspirator.'"
- "Doe will suffer irreparable harm absent the relief sought because once he is
named as an unindicted co-conspirator, the stigma that the Government believes there is evidence that he entered an agreement to shut down traffic at the George Washington Bridge to retaliate against Mayor (Mark) Sokolich can never be removed."
- "In seeking to resist disclosing the names of those individuals, the Government argued that their privacy interests were sufficiently compelling to outweigh the public’s right of access, but did not raise their fundamental, constitutional right not to be branded criminals without due process of law."
- "Privacy is well beside the point; at this juncture, as the Court observed, the unindicted co-conspirators’ privacy rights have already been greatly diminished. But their right not to be cast as criminals is not diminished one whit. That sacred right — the right not to be branded a criminal without due process of law — will never be diminished, no matter how much media attention the Bridgegate fiasco attracts."
The list of unindicted co-conspirators is due to be issued by noon Friday, after media organizations convinced U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton it should not be kept private. Defense attorneys have had the list for months.