Tuesday, May 17, 2016

As Bridgegate case drags on, lawyers are having last laugh

Parts of Main Street outside of downtown Hackensack have been repaved, as have other streets, but State Street and a narrow stretch of River Street still give drivers a rough ride.


The latest delay in releasing the list of "unindicted co-conspirators" in the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal serves only to line the pockets of the many lawyers involved.

Governor Christie alone has managed to spend more than $10 million in taxpayer funds on his law firm's elaborate stonewalling of public suspicions that he was involved in the September 2013 dirty trick against Fort Lee's Democratic mayor.

Christie's lawyer, Randy Mastro, actually had the balls to announce he was lowering his hourly fee to $650 from $1,000.

Despite the obvious bias of Mastro's final report, The Record has time and again pointed to it as evidence Christie did nothing wrong.

And the Woodland Park daily allowed WNYC-FM and other media to take the lead in keeping track of Mastro's bloated bills to the Governor's Office.

Three-year delay

Now, the trial of Bill Baroni, who was the Port Authority's deputy director, and Bridget Anne Kelly, then deputy chief of staff to Christie, is set for this September -- three years after the event.

David Wildstein, a Christie crony on the Port Authority, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy last May, and is expected to testify against Baroni and Kelly.

We can only guess at the huge legal bills facing this trio, and whether they had to take second and third mortgages on their homes.

Silence on fees

High legal fees deny many people their day in court.

That doesn't trouble The Record or North Jersey Media Group, which has deep pockets and doesn't hesitate to finance such First Amendment cases as trying to make public the list of people who weren't charged in the lane-closure scandal.

At the same time, the editors also have done their best to hide just how much lawyers get from multi-million dollar jury awards and settlements by simply not reporting them.

And when is the last time you saw a story reporting that a plaintiff is paying $200, $300 or $400 an hour for representation or that a criminal defendant might have to come up with a $10,000 retainer to get a lawyer to appear in court with him? 

Law-firm merger

The Record stays silent on legal fees even as it promotes a Hackensack law firm that has been paid handsomely to represent NJMG in everything from age-discrimination lawsuits to copyright infringement cases.

A story on the Saturday Business page reported Pashman Stein is merging with Walder Hayden of Roseland, but didn't identify the Hackensack firm as the one that's favored by NJMG Vice President and General Counsel Jennifer A. Borg.

Local news?

The Record's Local front today includes three sensational court stories, and two more appear on L-3 along with crime news.

Yet, two local obituaries were buried on L-5, including one for the Fort Lee man who ran Zabar's deli counter.

"To the legions who shop at Zabar's, the Upper West Side specialty food emporium, Harold Horowytz was the prince of pastrami, the king of corned beef, the lord of lox," Staff Writer Jay Levin wrote.

Below the Horowytz obituary, Levin reported the death of Allen Wahlberg, a longtime Ho-Ho-Kus councilman.

So, Horowytz and Wahlberg are treated the same as Madeleine LeBeau, an obscure French actress whose obit also is played on L-5.

Bias against Obama

What motivated The Record's editors to take a pot shot at President Obama in the coverage of his speech to Rutgers University graduates on Sunday?

The reporting I saw elsewhere was overwhelmingly positive, but The Record's main Page 1 story on Monday ended on a surprisingly sour note.

What exactly was the point of quoting a parent, Vince Zangli, saying he "couldn't be more disappointed in the last eight years," a clear reference to Obama's two terms in office?

Of course, that is consistent with all of the attacks on Obama by Christie and Record Columnist Mike Kelly.

Still, many readers are asking whether Zangli, Christie, Kelly, the editors and the reporter who quoted the parent are motivated by racial animus against the nation's first black president.

Coach Christie?

And why didn't The Record and other media question Christie's excuse for boycotting Obama's speech.

Who believes that fat slob's claim that he has coached his son in baseball "since he was 7 years old," and wanted to see him pitch his last college game?


  1. I read in Tuesday's and Wednesday's editions of The Record that one of the primary reasons that The Record's lawyer is using in court to try and have the names released for the unindicted co-conspirators in the GWB Bridge scandal and prevent the prosecutor from sealing those names from the public is because it violates "First Amendment" rights.

    Now, unless I am missing some obscure provision of the First Amendment, I do not believe that First Amendment rights have any bearing in regards to this case and I was wondering how the hell can a supposedly qualified lawyer or The Record, which relies on the First Amendment, can believe that their case for releasing the prosecutor to release those names relies on the First Amendment, which also deals with freedom of the press.

    My understanding of the First Amendment right for freedom of press is in regards to generally preventing the government from enacting rules or decisions that would not allow the press to publish sensitive information, whether it was leaked or not. Certain exceptions and constraints have been allowed by the courts based on particular circumstances. However, it seems that the First Amendment would not require the government or prosecutors to release every piece of information that they know to the public.

    However, the original intent of the freedom of press has been expanded over the years. Maybe, some new rights have been granted to the press based on updated interpretations of the First Amendment that I am not aware of.

    Now, either The Record's lawyer and their management are complete buffoons about what they are entitled to and pleading for in regards to the required government release of the names of the unindicted co-conspirators based on the First Amendment rights of the freedom of the press, or I am missing something in regards to this matter. I ran through Wikipedia's articles about the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press and I could find no explanation or precedent that would require a government prosecutor to release the names due to the First Amendment right of freedom of the press.

  2. The Record's lawyer, Bruce Rosen, also is a former reporter at the paper. He led a charmed life and once boasted he was given a mortgage by Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg, who was publisher before he was pushed aside by son Stephen.

    Lawyers who are paid $300 to $400 an hour or whatever ridiculous fee Rosen is charging will do and say anything to prevail in court. I agree. I don't see what freedom of the press has to do with it.

    Having said that, unindicted co-conspirators were routinely made public when I was covering the Newark federal courthouse in the 1980s.


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