Anti-Christie gadfly slapped down again — Bridgegate case at dead end
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HACKENSACK — A citizen activist who has spent months trying to get Gov. Chris Christie prosecuted for his alleged involvement in the Bridgegate scandal lost again in court on Friday.
A Superior Court judge once again denied William Brennan's request for a special independent prosecutor and to have the court bypass the county prosecutor and bring the official misconduct charge against Christie before a grand jury.
"Allowing a complainant to utilize the courts to challenge a prosecutorial decision would be disruptive, intrusive and inappropriate," Judge Bonnie Mizdol said Friday.
"In the State of New Jersey, there is no circumstance in which a private complainant may act as the prosecuting attorney," Mizdol said. "It is the responsibility of the prosecutor to investigate and prosecute crimes."
The ruling follows the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office's decision earlier this month to administratively dismiss the criminal complaint against Christie because prosecutors did not believe that they could prove Christie's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The official misconduct charge was filed by Brennan, now a Democratic candidate for governor, in Municipal Court in September following testimony in the federal trial of Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly and Christie's appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Bill Baroni, who were both found guilty.
A third Christie ally, David Wildstein, pleaded guilty and testified that the George Washington Bridge lane closures in 2013 was political payback against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, who had declined to endorse the Republican governor's re-election bid.
Paul Fishman, who resigned as U.S. attorney for New Jersey last week, has said that his office only brought charges against defendants they believed they could convict.
In her Friday opinion, Mizdol said there was no evidence that Bergen County Prosecutor's Office "abused its prosecutorial discretion."
Mizdol pointed out that there is a distinction between "probable cause" — which allowed Brennan's case to proceed in the first place — and being able to prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Earlier this month, Christie spokesman Brian Murray reiterated that "the governor had absolutely no role in the incident at the George Washington Bridge. All those who wish it were otherwise have again been proven wrong."
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.