- Associated Press - Thursday, December 24, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - An attorney for a former aide to Gov. Chris Christie is accusing the federal government of failing to force his office to produce relevant documents in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case, the latest in a series of salvos by defense attorneys in advance of a potential trial this spring.

The filing late Wednesday by Michael Critchley said the U.S. attorney’s office “apparently just does not want to do the work to obtain this information.” Critchley also accused Christie’s office of “gamesmanship” for allegedly dumping massive PDF files on the defense that are “strangely unsearchable.”

Critchley represents former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly, who was indicted last spring in connection with the bridge lane closures along with former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official Bill Baroni. A trial is scheduled for early April.

They are accused of orchestrating the closures on four days in September 2013 to punish a local mayor for not endorsing Christie and later claiming it was part of a traffic study.

Christie wasn’t charged and has repeatedly said he had no knowledge of the alleged scheme until several weeks after it happened.

Kelly and Baroni filed motions last month seeking access to documents that have been withheld and deemed privileged, including communications between Christie’s office and the Port Authority, which operates the bridge.

In his filing Wednesday, Critchley renewed a demand for information potentially favorable to the defense that was offered to the government by former Port Authority deputy general counsel Phillip Kwon, once a Christie nominee to the state Supreme Court.

He also criticized Christie’s office for sending PDF files, some totaling 10,000 to 20,000 pages each, that he said were unsearchable and made up of documents from different sources that were “arbitrarily interspersed.”

An 800-page index that contains more than 24,000 separate entries “is useless,” Critchley wrote.

The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment Thursday. Spokespeople for Christie didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

Last week, the judge rebuffed attempts by the defense to obtain purported interview notes from a 350-page report, prepared by a law firm Christie hired at taxpayers’ expense, that cleared the Republican governor and presidential candidate of wrongdoing.

In doing so, however, U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton chastised the firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, for its practice of overwriting and editing the interview notes in real time, writing that it “had the same effect” as shredding or deleting documents.

In a separate filing this week, Baroni sought to unseal a 2013 memo from the same law firm to the Port Authority that discussed how the agency should respond to subpoenas from a New Jersey legislative committee into its finances.

The indictment accuses Baroni of engaging in a cover-up by lying to the same committee about the purpose for the lane closures.


This version corrects that the accusation of gamesmanship was directed at Gov. Chris Christie’s office, not the U.S. attorney’s office.

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