U.S. Court of Appeals Orders Judge to Dismiss Charges Against Michael Flynn

Published by Matt Fishman on

Washington D.C. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan must grant the government’s motion to “dismiss the charges against Flynn”, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled today.

Michael Flynn had previously plead guilty to lying to the FBI, but later withdrew his guilty plea and pushed for a complete case dismissal on grounds that the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis”.

Judge Sullivan, the district court judge residing over this dismissal, responded by seeking outside opinion, appointing a retired Judge John Gleeson as amicus curiae. Flynn’s legal team quickly appealed to the higher court, arguing that involving an amicus curiae made Judge Sullivan illegitimately “assume the role of prosecutor”, infringing upon his “constitutional duties” to grant the motion to dismiss.

In their ruling today, the appeals court agreed and declared that the “district court’s appointment of the amicus… constitute irreparable harm”, and shows a “troubling indication of the district court’s mistaken understanding of its role in ruling”. Continuing, the court order says that it is “crystal clear that the district court is without authority to do so”.

Based on legal precedent, “a court may scrutinize a motion to dismiss only on the extraordinary showing of harassment of the defendant or malfeasance such as bribery”. Since that is not the case here, “there is no justification to appoint a private citizen to oppose the government’s motion to dismiss Flynn’s prosecution”.

As such, the district court must grant the motion to dismiss.