NEWARK, N.J., Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Defense attorneys in New Jersey's Bridgegate trial filed a motion seeking a mistrial Thursday, the fourth day of jury deliberations.
The request came in a four-page letter that was redacted to the extent that it was unclear why attorneys are seeking the mistrial. It came the day after a behind-the-scenes conflict over whether the jury had been properly instructed, the news website NJ.com reported Thursday.
Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, the two defendants in the Newark trial, are fighting charges that they worked together to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge between New York City and Fort Lee, N.J., as punishment for Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, not endorsing Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, in his 2013 re-election campaign. Baroni was the deputy executive director of the Port Authority and Kelly was a deputy chief of staff to Christie at the time. Another agency official, David Wildstein, has pleaded guilty.
Kelly and Baroni are charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and civil rights violations.
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 intended to punish Sokolich in order to be found guilty of conspiracy. The judge agreed that the defendants' motive does not need to be proven to the jury. It is uncertain if the mistrial motion has any connection to Wednesday's ruling.