The panel's questions reflected a possible division over the indictment's top two counts whether Christie's former deputy chief of staff and his top appointee to the authority that runs the bridge conspired and then put into action a scheme to punish a mayor for not endorsing Christie in 2013. They filed a joint request asking Wigenton to instruct the jury to disregard evidence related to Steven Fulop, the Democratic mayor of Jersey City who was allegedly punished in 2013 for not endorsing Christie. In one particularly damning email, Kelly told former Port Authority official David Wildstein, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee".
Jurors have concluded their first full day of deliberations in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case without reaching a verdict.
The case focuses on two former officials who worked in and with the administration of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The defense wanted to have jurors determine the defendants' guilt or innocence based on whether the government proved there was a plot to retaliate against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich. Federal Courthouse, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016 in Newark, N.J. The jury will continue to deliberate on Thursday.
That's due to the legal definition of conspiracy, and it's an issue that has been at the heart of the trial of former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly and former top appointee Bill Baroni. They charged, they had their press conference, they've talked about punishment.
Wigenton's decision would "eviscerate" the defense's case because "punishment is the key", said Michael Critchley, the lead attorney for Kelly. "The Government may prove a defendant's knowledge with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant deliberately closed his or her eyes to what would otherwise be obvious to him or her".
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The indictment specifically refers to punishment of Sokolich as the object of the conspiracy to misuse Port Authority resources.
The lawyers filed the motion for reconsideration on Wednesday.
"The grand jury did not charge defendants with redirecting traffic, something they were authorized to do".
"This is not a murder or kidnapping case, in which it matters not why the defendant committed the crime provided it is proven that he did so", the lawyers wrote. "Rather, it is a misapplication case, in which to prove the crime required the government to prove the improper objective of the punishment".
On Wednesday, the defense asked Judge Susan D. Wigenton to reverse a jury instruction that Kelly and Baroni did not have to be found to have meant to punish Sokolich in order to be found guilty of conspiracy. Attorneys went inside the courtroom multiple times on Wednesday, but media was not permitted to enter. But unlike Tuesday, reporters were not allowed in and attorneys declined repeatedly to answer questions about proceedings. Deliberations began Monday afternoon.