The news that – again – a federal judge has stopped the release of the name or names of unindicted co-conspirators in the Bridgegate case makes this comment by attorney Bennet Zurofsky that much more interesting to me, as the delay fuels the speculation of who “John Doe” is. From New Jersey Law Journal:
But Bennet Zurofsky, a Newark lawyer practicing constitutional law, civil rights and employment law, said the party is likely to be a public official, who is subject to a “very permissive” First Amendment standard for slander. The list of names would likely be disclosed during the upcoming trial anyway, and the media has already engaged in speculation about who is on the list, Zurofsky said.
“The fact that the U.S. attorney chose not to indict them speaks for itself,” said Zurofsky, who added, “Nothing is more in the public interest than what the government people were doing in connection with the George Washington Bridge.”
Likely to be a public official, for whom First Amendment rights may take a back seat to the public’s right to know. Somebody the U.S. Attorney chose not to indict.
I’ve been operating under an assumption that Chris Christie is not Doe, for several reasons but above all that Christie used to have the U.S. Attorney’s job, and as a prosecutor would know how to keep himself insulated from consequences even if he directly ordered disruption of the flow of traffic on the world’s busiest bridge for days. And even though he is the beneficiary of a politically motivated game of retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Sokolich for refusing to endorse Christie, as his inner office goons had persuaded other Democratic mayors to do. I still think so. But I’ve been wrong before underestimating the stupidity of politicians.
Meanwhile, it’s hard to deny the argument being made by the news media organizations who filed jointly filed in January to have the names of unindicted co-conspirators released, and are fighting the delays now. Their position is that John Doe had his chance and missed it to protect himself from public exposure. That their effort was well known many months ago, well-covered in the press. and Doe should have made his arguments to the government then, not now.
In January, Chris Christie was busy running for president.