NEWARK, N.J. -

The George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal has provided material for late-night talk show monologues and even made its way into a Jeopardy answer.

On Monday, 12 jurors will begin deciding whether it was a criminal conspiracy fueled by political revenge.

The federal fraud and civil rights trial against two former allies of Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will start with opening statements in federal court in Newark.

Defense attorneys are expected to characterize the government's case as using legal sleight of hand to bend federal law to fit defendant Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly's actions. They argue the actions may have been ethically suspect but weren't criminal.

Christie has not been accused of wrongdoing, but his name is expected to come up often during the trial.