- Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
A New Jersey judge ruled on Thursday for the second time that a criminal complaint against Gov. Chris Christie over the 2013 “Bridgegate” scandal can move forward, local media reported.
Bergen County Superior Court Judge Roy McGeady ruled in October that there was enough probable cause for the complaint to proceed, but the decision was appealed and sent back to McGeady in January by a higher court judge for a new hearing.
Christie’s first court appearance in the case is set for March 10.
The complaint, filed by William Brennan, a retired firefighter turned Democratic candidate for governor, accuses Christie of knowingly failing to order his associates to reopen access lanes from Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge that had been closed for what officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had said was a traffic study.
Christie has consistently denied any wrongdoing. His press secretary, Brian Murray, said in a statement on Thursday that McGeady was “violating the law, pure and simple” by issuing the same ruling after it had been dismissed by a higher court.
“This judge has once again violated the governor’s constitutional rights and intentionally ignored the earlier ruling by Assignment Judge [Bonnie] Mizdol,” Murray said. “This concocted claim was investigated for three months by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, which summarily dismissed it, after concluding that the very same evidence relied upon again by this judge was utter nonsense.”
In November, two former Christie associates were found guilty for their roles in plotting the lane closures in an act of political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who had endorsed Christie’s opponent in the gubernatorial election.
During the trial, prosecutors and witnesses argued that Christie knew about his associates’ plot, although Christie has not been charged with a crime and has maintained he had no knowledge of the plan.
The scandal dogged Christie throughout his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and has contributed to his consistently low approval ratings throughout his second term as governor.