NEWARK, N.J. – Someone included in a list set to be released of people involved in the 2013 lane closures in New Jersey near the George Washington Bridge asked a judge late Thursday to intervene anonymously to block its release, arguing it would unfairly brand them a criminal.
The court motion asks a federal judge to let the person identified as John Doe intervene to stop the release of a list of unindicted co-conspirators the government has been ordered to release by Friday at noon after a media request from organizations including The Associated Press.
The motion says the man will be "publicly branded a felon without due process of law, causing him immediate and irreparable reputational harm."
"That sacred right — the right not to be branded a criminal without due process of law_will never be diminished, no matter how much media attention the Bridgegate fiasco attracts," wrote attorney Jenny Kramer, of the high-profile New York firm Chadbourne and Parke.
Bruce Rosen, an attorney for the media companies, said they will oppose the motion and that the person is looking to deal with the same issues already dismissed by Judge Susan Wigenton. It wasn't immediately clear if Wigenton would rule on the motion before the documents were released.
The U.S. attorney's office, which brought the indictment against two former aides to Gov. Chris Christie, had opposed the release of the names over individual privacy concerns. But Wigenton said it was in the public's interest to release the list limited to those "whom the Government has sufficient evidence to designate as having joined the conspiracy."
The motion came hours before the scheduled release of the document and on the same day the organizations asked federal prosecutors to release a separate list which reportedly shows the names of any people who may have known about the conspiracy but weren't criminally charged.
Both lists have already been shared with defense lawyers for Christie's former aides charged in the scandal.
Bridget Kelly, Christie's then-deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, a top Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that operates the bridge, face federal wire fraud and civil rights charges and are scheduled for trial this fall.
They are alleged to have engineered the lane closures to create traffic jams in nearby Fort Lee, whose mayor had declined to endorse Christie for re-election. Both have pleaded not guilty and have sought to have the charges dismissed.
Christie has not been charged and has denied knowledge of the closures.
Kramer wrote in her motion that while the public "undoubtedly has an interest" in the case against Baroni and Kelly, it doesn't have a comparable interest in knowing her client's identity.
Rosen said he has requested a copy of the second list, which was created by federal investigators. He said the organizations will seek a court order to release the document if prosecutors don't provide it.
Kelly's attorney, Michael Critchley, initially requested the names in a filing in early March, a few weeks after a footnote in a government filing referred to individuals "who may have had knowledge of the conspiracy or took actions that happened to further its goals" but did not join the conspiracy.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment Thursday on the media request.