|In summing up the government's case at the Bridgegate trial on Friday, a prosecutor called defendants Bridget Anne Kelly, left, and Bill Baroni "loyal lieutenants" of Governor Christie (Credit: Bryan Thomas/Getty Images).|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
The Record's flawed coverage of the Bridgegate trial in Newark is lurching toward its conclusion next week, when federal jurors are expected to begin their secret deliberations and deliver a verdict.
In reporting on Friday's closing arguments, the main Page 1 headline today presents the defense case first, and is missing a question mark:
In fact, a federal prosecutor went first, and spent four hours laying out evidence the defendants "shared an intense commitment to the political success of Governor Christie."
"They saw themselves as his loyal lieutenants who were free to use their government jobs to launch political attacks ...," notably the George Washington Bridge lane closures in September 2013, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Cortes said (A-1).
Defendants Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, the governor's former top executive appointee at the Port Authority, "never attempted to separate politics from their jobs in public service," Cortes told the jury.
Defense attorney Michael Baldassare called Baroni's accuser and former subordinate David Wildstein "a serial liar." Kelly's attorney is set to sum up on Monday.
In today's Bridgegate trial story, Staff Writer Paul Berger steers clear of a major error on Friday, when The Record reported the judge has already instructed the jury on the law, even though that is the last step before they start their deliberations.
And no correction appears on A-2 today.
The two reporters who have been covering the trial, Berger and Dustin Racioppi, and their editors apparently forgot to read the "Handbook for Trial Jurors Serving in the United States District Courts," which lays out how a federal criminal trial proceeds.
Page 8 notes the judge's instructions or "the charge to the jury" comes after closing arguments, not before.
"The charge ... is much more than a statement of the rules of law. Sometimes it may contain a summary of the facts or some of the facts.
"The judge may point out and may also explain basic facts in dispute, and facts that do not actually matter in the case."
Bad news for Christie
At least three witnesses testified under oath that Christie knew about the lane closures in Fort Lee, despite his repeated denials.
But that's not why he looks so unhappy in a Page 1 photo today from a Seaside Heights bar, where people who are not back in their homes four years after Superstorm Sandy rained on his progress report.
Staff Writer Elisa Ung continues to lose credibility as a restaurant critic with her rave review of the low-quality smoked pork and artery clogging desserts served at an out-of-state restaurant, Fink's BBQ and Cheesesteak Roadhouse (BL-14 on Friday).
Absent any information to the contrary, readers can only assume the worst, that the pork, meat and poultry served there are raised under horrific conditions and pumped full of antibiotics, which are harmful to humans.