With the recent revelations of e-mails between various New Jersey government functionaries and aides of Governor Chris Christie (up to and including his Deputy Chief of Staff, Bridget Kelly) prosecutors are probably looking at what laws may have been violated. Here’s what the New Jersey Code of Criminal Procedure has to say:
2C:27-5. Retaliation for past official action
A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if he harms another by any unlawful act with purpose to retaliate for or on account of the service of another as a public servant.
Arguably Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich was retaliated against because of his service as mayor of a New Jersey City. Unlawfully shutting down a bridge in retaliation against him sure sounds like it fits the definition of the crime.
2C:27-12 Crime of corruption of public resources; grading.
1. a. A person commits the crime of corruption of public resources if, with respect to a public resource which is subject to an obligation to be used for a specified purpose or purposes, the person knowingly uses or makes disposition of that public resource or any portion thereof for an unauthorized purpose.
The George Washington Bridge itself was “used” as an instrument by which to retaliate against Mayor Sokolich and against people who’d voted for Barbara Buono for Governor against Chris Christie, based upon the plain language in the emails that have been made public. Again, this statute seems to fit the acts and omissions of Christie’s staff.
2C:29-1. Obstructing Administration of Law or Other Governmental Function.
a. A person commits an offense if he purposely obstructs, impairs or perverts the administration of law or other governmental function or prevents or attempts to prevent a public servant from lawfully performing an official function by means of flight, intimidation, force, violence, or physical interference or obstacle, or by means of any independently unlawful act. This section does not apply to failure to perform a legal duty other than an official duty, or any other means of avoiding compliance with law without affirmative interference with governmental functions.
b. An offense under this section is a crime of the fourth degree if the actor obstructs the detection or investigation of a crime or the prosecution of a person for a crime, otherwise it is a disorderly persons offense.
This statute speaks for itself and the subsequent efforts of Christie’s aides to cover up the offense fits the element of “obstructs the detection or investigation of a crime….”
One thing that causing the traffic chaos in Fort Lee teaches the world, including Al Qaeda and other terrorists who might have an interest in disrupting America, is that by simply screwing up bridges at the right place and the right time can cost billions of dollars and as we’ve seen, cost lives (like the 91 year old woman who may have died from the delay of EMT response services). During the Vietnam War, a technique of disruption used by some activists was the “stall in.” You get 3 or 4 junk cars the run, stall them in tandem on a downtown freeway interchange and voila: chaos. So now, terrorists need to take a few vehicles onto a bridge, get out, perhaps set them on fire, and walk away. They don’t even have to blow themselves up in the process…and we have the Christie administration to thank for giving them the idea.