General Michael Flynn's attorneys have requested a writ of mandamus from the D.C. Circuit ordering that the Department of Justice's unopposed motion to dismiss be granted. While mandamus is an extraordinary writ, the district judge's actions in the past two weeks have also been extraordinary. As Hans von Spakovsky explained:
The Court of Appeals should issue that order and override Sullivan’s unprecedented and, frankly, bizarre behavior in opening up the criminal prosecution of Flynn to input from outside parties and appointing John Gleeson, a former federal prosecutor and retired federal judge (who recently penned an op-ed attacking the Justice Department), to argue against the department’s motion.
Gleeson has even told Sullivan that he may need to engage in “additional factual development.” In other words, a nonparty, private lawyer is making the astounding proposal that he be given the powers of a government prosecutor.
The Justice Department moved to dismiss the charges against Flynn after an internal investigation revealed troubling information about the prosecution. The department concluded that it could not prove its case to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
The department has now determined that the FBI had no evidence justifying an interview of Flynn in the first place. That interview resulted in the claim that Flynn “lied” to the FBI. A valid prosecution would require that the alleged lie be “material” to an investigation. Since there was no legitimate basis for an investigation, the “materiality” requirement could not be met.
Mr. von Spakovsky went on to describe the relevant D.C. Circuit and Supreme Court precedents and legal rules under which the petition for a writ of mandamus will be decided and analyzed why the writ should be granted in this case.
George Washington Law Professor Jonathan Turley gave a chilling account of the rule of law implications for a judge deciding to prosecute a criminal defendant after the prosecutors wish to drop the case:
While courts have discretion to grant amicus or third-party arguments in civil cases, there is no counterpart under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. . . . It is dangerous to open up criminal cases for citizens to argue for convictions or enhanced punishments, particularly when prosecutors seek dismissal in light of prosecutorial error or abuse. . . .
However, the Flynn case has proved to be the defining temptation for many in discarding constitutional protections and values in their crusade against President Donald Trump. Experts are asking a court to consider sending a man to prison after the Justice Department concluded it can no longer stand behind his prosecution. Under this same logic, any defendant could face public outrage over an unopposed motion to dismiss, and a court could invite third parties to make arguments against him. Rather than protecting an unpopular criminal defendant from those outside clamoring for his head, the court is inviting them inside to replace the prosecutors.
If Sullivan’s invitation for third parties to argue in a criminal case is unnerving, his suggestion that he might substitute a perjury charge is positively terrifying. Sullivan has compounded this judicial overreach by asking Gleeson to explore the issue, despite his public criticism of the administration's handling of the Flynn case. . . .
So what is Sullivan going to do? He cannot force the Justice Department to prosecute a case that it considers to be unethical. He would have to enlist his own outside prosecutor after creating his own dispute with outside parties. If Flynn is convicted, Sullivan will have to order the Bureau of Prisons to incarcerate someone who was convicted by judicial design.
Unfortunately many are willing to set aside normal rules of due process in their ongoing efforts to attack President. Thanks to Gen. Flynn's attorneys for standing up against this attempt to set aside regular procedures in a politicized criminal proceeding.