•   
  •   
  •   

US Supreme Court skeptical that 2013 'Bridgegate' scandal was a crime

21:05  14 january  2020
21:05  14 january  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

Supreme Court to tackle corruption questions in Bridgegate case

  Supreme Court to tackle corruption questions in Bridgegate case The Bridgegate scandal will head to the Supreme Court next week, bringing with it complicated legal questions about whether public officials are committing fraud by lying about their reasons for making policy decisions. © Getty Images Supreme Court to tackle corruption questions in Bridgegate case On Tuesday, the court will hear oral arguments in a case that centers around the convictions of a former aide to then New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and a Port Authority official for their role in a scheme to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge in 2013 to create traffic problems for the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J.

WASHINGTON – The federal government faced tough questions at the Supreme Court Tuesday in defending criminal penalties levied against public officials who shut down access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in 2013 for political retribution.

Chris Christie wearing a suit and tie: Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, here in September at a New York City event, was inside the Supreme Court Tuesday as the justices debated the 2013 © Robert Deutsch, USAT Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, here in September at a New York City event, was inside the Supreme Court Tuesday as the justices debated the 2013 "Bridgegate" scandal that shut down access lanes to the George Washington Bridge for political retribution.

While none of the justices said the actions of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's associates were justified, a majority of them doubted that it amounted to property fraud worthy of prison sentences.

Supreme Court's war on prosecutors meets 'Bridgegate'

  Supreme Court's war on prosecutors meets 'Bridgegate' The court's impatience with federal prosecutors, even in cases of political corruption, may benefit ex-New Jersey governor Chris Christie's cronies."What kind of a mad prosecutor would try to send this guy up for 20 years?" Associate Justice Antonin Scalia railed.

The scandal, which became known as "Bridgegate," was hatched when the Christie aides faked a traffic study to create gridlock for several days in Fort Lee, N.J., whose Democratic mayor had refused to endorse the governor's re-election bid. Christie, who was not charged, was inside court for the oral argument.

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

More: Chris Christie sits in as Supreme Court considers whether Bridgegate was actually a crime

Federal prosecutors eventually charged them with fraud and won 18-month prison sentences, which have been set aside pending the Supreme Court's review.

Chief Justice John Roberts argued that one of the officials, William Baroni of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, actually had authority to regulate lane usage on the George Washington Bridge, the busiest in the world.

'Bridgegate': From Fort Lee, N.J., to the Supreme Court. This is how we got here

  'Bridgegate': From Fort Lee, N.J., to the Supreme Court. This is how we got here Years after Fort Lee, N.J., was snarled in traffic jams for political payback, Bridgegate's questions may be answered — by the nation's highest court.What Michel did not realize was that he was trapped in what came to be known as “Bridgegate” — the bizarre plot to punish Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor with traffic jams because he refused to endorse the reelection of Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

a man holding an umbrella in front of a building: Bridget Kelly, former deputy chief of staff for then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Bill Baroni, his top appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, embrace outside the Supreme Court after oral argument Tuesday.© Jack Gruber, USAT Bridget Kelly, former deputy chief of staff for then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Bill Baroni, his top appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, embrace outside the Supreme Court after oral argument Tuesday.

Associate Justice Stephen Breyer said Baroni's actions, along with those of Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly, did not stop the general public from using the bridge.

"It was just a problem getting there – which was quite a problem, I grant you," Breyer said.

The appeal in Bridgegate represents the latest in a series of cases in which the high court has looked skeptically – and often reversed – federal prosecutors' creative use of criminal laws to win convictions.

In 2016, the court vacated the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, who had been sentenced to two years in prison for accepting luxury gifts and loans from a wealthy businessman in exchange for "official acts." The justices ruled unanimously that those acts were commonplace actions taken on behalf of constituents.

Trump asks Supreme Court to let immigrant 'public charge' rule take effect

  Trump asks Supreme Court to let immigrant 'public charge' rule take effect The Trump administration on Monday asked the Supreme Court to allow it to move forward with a rule aimed at cutting back benefits for immigrants while litigation plays out in court.The Justice Department, on behalf of the administration, asked the justices to lift a nationwide halt on President Trump's "public charge" rule that links immigrants' legal status to their use of public benefits.The move came after a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit last week kept in place a nationwide injunction entered by a federal district judge in New York.

The ruling made it harder for prosecutors to use federal fraud statutes against public officials by characterizing what the justices called common favors as crimes.

The Supreme Court began pushing back against public corruption prosecutions in 1987, reversing the conviction of Kentucky officials who had skimmed money paid by the state to insurance companies. The court reasoned that fraud statutes do not guarantee officials will "perform their duties honestly." A generation later, it added that "honest services" fraud must include bribery or kickbacks.

Jacob Roth, the lawyer representing Kelly, told the court there were no bribes or kickbacks in the Bridgegate scandal. His client, he said, "simply reallocated" lanes on the bridge from one public use to another, adding, "I'm not trying to suggest that this is OK."

Associate Justice Samuel Alito, a former U.S. attorney for New Jersey, said the scheme required Port Authority workers to spend time on a traffic study that was contrived.

"Money is property," Alito said, "and money was lost."

Maddie Clifton's murderer appealing life sentence

  Maddie Clifton's murderer appealing life sentence A man convicted as a teenager of one of Jacksonville’s most notorious crimes is appealing his life sentence to the Florida Supreme Court. Joshua Phillips, now 34, was convicted at age 14 of killing his 8-year-old neighbor Maddie Clifton and stuffing her body under his waterbed. The 1998 murder shocked the city and drew national attention. Phillips was originally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He qualified for a resentencing under a U.S. Supreme Court decision that found juvenile life sentences without the possibility of parole to be unconstitutional.

But when U.S. Deputy Solicitor General Eric Feigin expanded on that theory of "commandeering fraud," Alito and several other justices voiced skepticism.

"The object of this deception was not to obtain property," Associate Justice Elena Kagan said. "The object was to create a traffic jam. The object was to benefit people politically."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Supreme Court skeptical that 2013 'Bridgegate' scandal was a crime

DHS to share citizenship data with Census Bureau in wake of court decision .
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has said it will share citizenship information with the Census Bureau following a 2019 executive order by President Trump that stemmed from a Supreme Court decision. © Getty Images DHS to share citizenship data with Census Bureau in wake of court decision DHS quietly announced the move at the end of December in a document posted to its website. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

usr: 0
This is interesting!