A New Jersey judge ruled on Thursday for the second time that a criminal complaint against Gov. Chris Christie over the 2013 “Bridgegate” scandal can move forward, local media reported.
Bergen County Superior Court Judge Roy McCready had ruled last October that there was probable cause for the complaint to proceed, but the decision was sent back to McCready in January by a higher court judge for a new hearing.
Christie’s first court appearance in the case is set for March 10.
The complaint, filed by William Brennan, a retired firefighter-turned-Democratic candidate for governor, alleges that Christie “knowingly” failed to order his associates to reopen access lanes to the George Washington Bridge that had been closed for what Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials had said was a traffic study.
Christie has consistently denied all wrongdoing in the case. His press secretary Brian Murray said on Thursday that McCready was “violating the law, pure and simple” by issuing the same ruling after it had been dismissed by a higher court.
“This judge has once again violated the Governor’s constitutional rights and intentionally ignored the earlier ruling by Assignment Judge Mizdol,” Murray said.
“This concocted claim was investigated for three months by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, which summarily dismissed it, after concluding that the very same evidence relied upon again by this judge was utter nonsense.”
Last November, two former Christie associates were found guilty over their roles in plotting the lane closures in an act of political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who had endorsed Christie’s opponent in the gubernatorial election.
During the trial, prosecutors and witnesses argued that Christie knew about his associates’ plot, although Christie has not been charged with a crime and has maintained he had no knowledge of the plan.
The scandal dogged Christie throughout his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, and has contributed to his consistently low approval ratings throughout his second term as governor.