Washington, D.C. federal District Judge Emmett Sullivan is refusing to dismiss the criminal case against former national security advisor Michael Flynn, and is now arguing that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals erred when it ordered him to do so last month in a 2-1 ruling.
Sullivan, through his attorney Beth Wilkinson, filed a petition on Thursday for a so-called “en banc” review by the entire D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the three-judge panel was improperly trying to force the district court “to grant a motion [to dismiss] it had not yet resolved … in reliance on arguments never presented to the district court.”
Flynn’s lawyer, Sidney Powell, successfully sought a writ of mandamus last month from the three-judge panel on the appellate court ordering Sullivan to toss the case. Writs of mandamus are unusual remedies that order government officials to take a certain action; they are appropriate when there has been a “usurpation of judicial power” that is “clear and indisputable,” Powell acknowledged.
Powell, whose argument was supported by the Justice Department, primarily asserted that the constitutional separation of powers, and D.C. Circuit case law, clearly holds that judges cannot unilaterally keep prosecutions alive when both the prosecutors and the defense seek to dismiss charges. The DOJ moved to dismiss the Flynn case earlier this year after a slew of exculpatory information, which the government acknowledged should have been disclosed long ago under a standing court order, was finally turned over to the defense team.
But, the circuit court’s panel decision ordering the dismissal of the case, Sullivan argued, was premature, and threatened to turn “mandamus into an ordinary litigation tool.”
“All the district court has done is ensure adversarial briefing and an opportunity to ask questions about a pending motion,” Sullivan’s motion reads. “Outside the panel opinion, those actions have not been considered inappropriate—much less an extreme separation-of-powers violation justifying mandamus.”