A New Jersey judge on Thursday ordered a new hearing on a criminal misconduct complaint against Gov. Chris Christie in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal, ruling that a lower court wrongly found probable cause for the case to proceed.
State Superior Court Judge Bonnie Mizdol sent the case back to the lower court for a new hearing on the issue. But Mizdol refused a request from Christie’s attorneys to dismiss the citizen’s complaint entirely.
The complaint, filed by former Teaneck firefighter William Brennan, accuses Christie of failing to act to reopen the lanes.
Mizdol agreed with arguments from Christie’s attorneys that the lower court’s October finding of probable cause was flawed because they weren’t allowed to participate or cross-examine Brennan. She found that oversight “was a violation of fundamental constitutional safeguards.”
But in turning down the request for dismissal, she rejected their arguments that the evidence Brennan offered — testimony from the recent federal trial — wasn’t sufficient for a probable cause finding.
If Brennan’s complaint is allowed to go forward, prosecutors would have to collect evidence and present it to a grand jury, which would have to hand up an indictment before Christie could face a criminal trial. Official misconduct is punishable by a potential prison term of five to 10 years upon conviction.