Kendall Coffey discusses the latest news surrounding the controversial bridge closing in New Jersey and Chris Christie’s involvement in the incident. See below for the transcript.
Steve Malzberg: If whoever was responsible—if it was in a vindictive manner for closing the bridge. We know that one woman died—a 90-year-old woman—she was passed out and died by the time the EMS got to her. We also know from a newspaper survey in New Jersey that the response times by EMS during the closure of the lanes resulted in longer first responder times. If the family sues and it can be shown that the bridge closing or the lane closing did cause longer response, could somebody be held on felony murder charges?
Kendall Coffey: I’d be astonished to see a charge go that far. It is indeed. Official misconduct can be a felony. You and I are talking about what’s alleged and there really is a presumption of innocence that we shouldn’t overlook. But if official misconduct can be proven, that’s a felony. Killings that occur in the course of a felony can be considered felony murder. I’m not sure that a prosecutor would connect these kinds of dots. It’s not like somebody committing a robbery where somebody is killed. But that’s a classic example of felony murder, where somebody is in the heart of something that is foreseeable. But is it theoretically possible? Could be. There’s no court decision on something like this, but the more likely scenario for prosecutors if they’ve got the proof. Then the official misconduct statutes seems to fit like a glove…in terms of the way these allegations read and the Justice Department itself is exploring whether there are federal laws that could be violated and all that’s, you know, very serious ground to consider before we get to civil lawsuits and damages lawsuits, which are also in the universe of distinct possibilities here.
What about Wildstein taking the fifth and the judge holding him contempt? Can that be done?
Kendall Coffey: No. There’s a constitutional right to take the fifth. There can be consequences, you know civil or administratively, but contempt? Being put in jail because you exercised your constitutional right to assert the Fifth Amendment? That’s not what the law permits.
Check out the entire video here, where Kendall Coffey also discusses a recent ruling by a New York judge on the adoption of a child by two close friends.