After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to explain why he didn’t immediately dismiss the Michael Flynn case, Sullivan responded by hiring top trial lawyer Beth Wilkinson to make his case. On Tuesday, Wilkinson officially entered her appearance in the controversial proceeding.
We learned on Saturday evening that the judge in Flynn’s case was lawyering up. Needless to say, that is not something we regularly see reported in the news. But the already eye-popping situation only got wilder when the new attorney for Sullivan turned out to be the old attorney for then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
As Law&Crime reported before, Wilkinson represented Kavanaugh after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford alleged that he sexually assaulted her when they were in high school. Wilkinson made a number of media appearances during the course of that high-profile representation (see: here, here and here).
Wilkinson entered her appearance in the D.C. Circuit, checking off the box noting that Sullivan has “retained” her as lead counsel. Sullivan, with Wilkinson in his arsenal, has until the coming Monday at the latest to convince the D.C. Circuit not to order him to dismiss the Flynn case.
Judge Sullivan and Wilkinson are going to have to explain why Rule 48(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and United States v. Fokker Services give the district judge the authority to keep alive the Flynn case when both prosecution and the defense want the case dismissed. There will be legal wrangling over what Rule 48 means when it says the DOJ may dismiss the case “with leave of the court.”
The controversy stems from Sullivan’s decision to not immediately grant the DOJ’s motion to drop the criminal case against Flynn even though the retired lieutenant general twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Judge Sullivan instead invited outside interested groups to file briefs with the court arguing why the DOJ’s motion should be denied. The judge also appointed former federal judge John Gleeson present the arguments against the DOJ. Sullivan also ordered Gleeson to examine whether Flynn should be held criminal contempt of court for perjuring himself over the course of his prosecution.
Flynn’s legal team, led by conservative attorney Sidney Powell, filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with the D.C. Circuit. They argued that Judge Sullivan was violating the separation of powers. The D.C. Circuit responded last Thursday by ordering Sullivan to explain himself.
With Wilkinson, there’s also a CNN connection. Her husband is CNN contributor David Gregory.
Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.
[Image via YouTube screengrab]
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