New Jersey

Gubernatorial Candidate Asks Judge to Reconsider Ruling Rejecting Chris Christie Special Prosecutor

A New Jersey man wants a judge to reconsider her rejection of a special prosecutor in a criminal misconduct complaint against Gov. Chris Christie in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal.

William Brennan, a former firefighter and Wayne resident who this week said he's running for governor as a Democrat, filed the request on Monday. It became available on Wednesday.

State Superior Court Judge Bonnie Mizdol had dismissed Brennan's motion Friday, saying that he lacked standing.

Brennan alleges the Republican governor failed to order subordinates to reopen bridge access lanes in September 2013.

Christie's attorney Craig Carpenito called Brennan's latest request "baseless" and called the complaint a stunt.

"With Monday's announcement of his gubernatorial candidacy, Mr. Brennan reveals his true motivation behind this political stunt," Carpenito said.

Brennan responded that if Christie wants to show his innocence he should stop "whining" and sue him for malicious prosecution.

"I'm happy to take his deposition on these facts," he said.

In a separate statement, he said he has spent "the better part of the last 30 years fighting corruption from the bottom up." He added: "Lately there are more and more fires to put out (and) it's time we deal with the arsonists at the top."

Brennan wrote in his latest filing that the judge erred in her ruling because he is not asking to be made the special prosecutor himself, neither is he appealing an earlier judge's ruling that probable cause existed.

The judge on Wednesday asked the state and Christie's attorney to reply to Brennan's motion by Dec. 14. Brennan has a week to reply to those responses. She hasn't set a date for a court appearance. [[238427591, C]]

Three former Christie allies were convicted or pleaded guilty in federal court in what prosecutors say was a scheme to punish a Democratic mayor who didn't endorse Christie.

Christie wasn't charged and denies any wrongdoing.

A grand jury would have to hear evidence and hand up an indictment in the state misconduct case before Christie would stand trial.

A different judge ruled in October that there was probable cause to let the complaint go forward.

Brennan had argued that a special prosecutor is needed to remove the appearance of a conflict of interest. Attorney General Chris Porrino and Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal, both appointed by Christie, have recused themselves from the case, but Brennan argued that their subordinates also should be recused.

Carpenito and the attorney general's office argued that Brennan, as a citizen making a complaint, doesn't have the standing to call for a special prosecutor and that there is no legislative mechanism to appoint one.

Brennan contended the case is novel because it involves a sitting governor as a defendant and has no guiding legal precedent.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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