Enter The Alligator: Christie’s Bridge Lawyer Has A ‘Merciless’ Reputation

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Some attorneys might balk at being compared to an alligator.

But the high-powered crisis lawyer hired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) office to deal with the bridge scandal has no such qualms. The bio on his law firm’s website boasts of the analogy.

The administration announced Thursday it had hired Randy Mastro to head up a team conducting an internal review of the scandal and to cooperate with the federal prosecutors who are looking into the matter.

Mastro is a New York-based partner at mega firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher. He is also the leader of its “crisis management” practice.

His biography on the firm’s site brags of his fearsome reputation and flair for the dramatic. It cites a writeup in a legal publication in which a “peer” joked: “You do not want to meet Randy down a dark alley. But you REALLY don’t want to meet him in a lighted courtroom.” It also quotes someone else who apparently said, “I’ve never gone against Randy before myself but I’ve seen him at work and I can only imagine that going against him must be like wrestling an alligator.”

His official biography also highlights a quote from the New Yorker, which described him as a “merciless litigator,” “even by the pugilistic standards of the New York bar.” It notes that attorneys quoted in another legal publication said he “deserves an Academy Award” for “bringing a sense of drama and theater to his courtroom appearances.”

The Christie administration apparently thought Mastro fit the bill to grapple with the scandal that has engulfed New Jersey in recent weeks. The scandal involves the closures of lanes on the George Washington Bridge that some Democrats have alleged were ordered by Christie’s allies as political retaliation against a local mayor.

Mastro did his first stint at Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher after serving as assistant U.S. attorney and deputy chief of the civilian division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan from 1985 until 1989. He left the firm from 1994 through 1998 to work in the administration of New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, where he served as chief of staff and deputy mayor for operations. After that, he returned to the firm.

In addition to a long list of corporate clients, Mastro has worked for the tennis stars Anna Kournikova, Martina Hingis, and Steffi Graf. According to his biography, he represented Kournikova “in misappropriation and privacy action against Penthouse Magazine for running a piece about the tennis star in which it featured nude photographs of another woman misidentified as Kournikova.” His work for Hingis included “an action to require the USTA and WTA to afford her coach-mother access to the women’s locker room during the 2000 U.S. Open.” He successfully sued on behalf of Graf and her family to “prevent a rich eccentric tennis fan from harassing them during the U.S. Open.”

Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D), the chairman of the state Assembly committee investigating the lane closures, said in a press conference Thursday the committee’s special counsel had been in touch with Mastro. Wisniewski also announced that his committee has issued 20 subpoenas as part of its investigation. One of those subpoenas was reportedly going to Christie’s campaign.

The chair of a state Senate committee investigating the matter said it would also issue subpoenas to three officials, including a close aide to Christie.

Mastro did not respond to a request for comment from TPM.

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