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Bridgegate Defendants Kelly, Baroni To Testify In Own Defense, Attorneys Say

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Attorneys for the two defendants set to go to trial in the Bridgegate scandal said Monday that their clients will take the stand in their own defense.

The former allies of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie face wire fraud and civil rights counts in the 2013 case where lanes of the George Washington Bridge were shut down – causing traffic backups in Fort Lee.

Bridget Kelly is Christie's former deputy chief of staff and Bill Baroni was deputy executive director of the agency the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge.

Prospective jurors were called in for questioning on Thursday.

Two access lanes to the bridge were closed for five days three years ago this month. The lane closures came during the week of the Sept. 11 observance and the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

WEB EXTRA: Timeline of key events in "Bridgegate" investigation

David Wildstein, Christie's former Port Authority appointee, said that he – along with Baroni and Kelly – hatched up the plant to punish Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for declining to endorse Christie for reelection.

Fort Lee manages the access lanes commuters use to cut through.

Wildstein claimed Christie knew about the plan, though the governor has denied involvement.

Kelly sent the now-infamous email, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

Christie has denied knowledge of the closures. As WCBS 880's Kelly Waldron reported, Christie has not been charged in the case but could be subpoenaed to testify.

Analysts also said defense attorneys could push for the jury to return a not guilty verdict under what is called jury nullification – using an argument that a lot of people were in on the plan and their clients should not be the only ones being punished.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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