Judge Postpones Flynn Sentencing… Again
by Jonathan Turley
The Justice Department has secured yet another postponement of sentencing for former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Even though the Justice Department recently dropped its demand for jail time, it appears to be continuing its scorched Earth campaign against Flynn.
It is demanding that Flynn waive attorney-client privilege with his prior law firm to allow them to explore his claims of ineffective counsel. Given the dropping of a demand for jail time, the requested additional delay seems gratuitous and retaliatory. Nevertheless, Judge Emmet Sullivan granted the indefinite postponement.
The Flynn case remains a troubling matter for those who have followed the Russian investigation. He pleaded guilty to a false statement that seems relatively minor in comparison to false statements made by Justice officials like Andrew McCabe or leaks by figures like James Comey. Some of us have questioned the case for years. Prosecutors threatened to go after Flynn’s son and to bankrupt him if he continuing to assert his innocence.
Flynn broke with his prior lawyers and accused them of giving him poor advice. He now maintains that he did not lie to two FBI agents in 2017. His recent filings slam the process and the charges. He wrote:
“One of the ways a person becomes a 3-star general is by being a good soldier, taking orders, being part of a team, and trusting the people who provide information and support. Lori and I trusted Mr. Kelner and Mr. Anthony to guide us through the most stressful experience in our lives, in a completely incomprehensible situation. I have never felt more powerless.”
The extreme demands and delays in the case is at odds with the light sentences received by individuals sentenced as part of the Russian investigation. He was also the subject of a bizarre hearing with Judge Emmet Sullivan where he was accused of things outside of his charges or the record.
Flynn was ready to be sentenced but, because he raised ineffective counsel, the Justice Department wants to speak with his former counsel at Covington & Burling:
“The government requests that the Court suspend the current briefing schedule concerning the defendant’s [motion] until such time as the government has been able to confer with Covington regarding the information it seeks . . . While Covington has indicated a willingness to comply with this request, it has understandably declined to do so in the absence of a Court order confirming the waiver of attorney-client privilege.”
Judge Sullivan has already rejected Flynn’s claim that he was coerced into his plea agreement. Now Flynn is being left to twist in the wind after years of financially and emotionally draining litigation. It is hard to look that this case and not conclude that the Justice Department wants to hoist Flynn like a wretch for all to see. The message seems to be, if you try to rescind a plea agreement, you will be left to die from exposure of years of punishing trial and appellate practice.
(TLB) published this article from Jonathan Turley with our appreciation for this perspective.
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Professor Jonathan Turley is a nationally recognized legal scholar who has written extensively in areas ranging from constitutional law to legal theory to tort law. He has written over three dozen academic articles that have appeared in a variety of leading law journals at Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Northwestern, University of Chicago, and other schools.
After a stint at Tulane Law School, Professor Turley joined the George Washington faculty in 1990 and, in 1998, was given the prestigious Shapiro Chair for Public Interest Law, the youngest chaired professor in the school’s history. In addition to his extensive publications, Professor Turley has served as counsel in some of the most notable cases in the last two decades including the representation of whistleblowers, military personnel, judges, members of Congress, and a wide range of other clients.
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