Enough evidence exists for a New Jersey resident’s official misconduct complaint to go forward against Gov. Chris Christie for his alleged failure to stop politically motivated lane closures in 2013, a judge ruled Thursday, according to documents obtained by PEOPLE.
William Brennan alleges in the complaint that Christie “knowingly refrained” from ordering his subordinates to reopen the traffic lanes to the George Washington Bridge during the incident.
The four days of lane closures caused significant traffic delays and led to a 16-month federal investigation.
Two of Christie’s former top aides are now on trial for allegedly creating the plot to close the lanes in Fort Lee, New Jersey, to allegedly punish the city’s mayor because he didn’t endorse Christie’s bid for re-election, according to numerous reports.
Municipal Presiding Judge Roy McGeady ruled that there is probable cause “to believe that an event of official misconduct was caused by Gov. Christie,” according to The Star Ledger.
The judge issued a criminal summons, according to court documents.
Since the charge is an indictable offense, the case has been referred to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Bergen County municipal court administrative specialist Jessica Lemley tells PEOPLE.
“It is significant that this is allowed to proceed to the next stage,” Bill Hurlock, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice in New Jersey, tells PEOPLE.
The ruling is “being appealed immediately” by Christie’s office, a spokesman for the governor tells PEOPLE.
“This is a dishonorable complaint filed by a known serial complainant and political activist with a history of abusing the judicial system,” Christie spokesman Brian Murray said to PEOPLE in an emailed statement.
“The simple fact is the Governor had no knowledge of the lane realignments either before they happened or while they were happening. This matter has already been thoroughly investigated by three separate independent investigations. The ruling is being appealed immediately.”