“A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit split 2-1 along ideological lines.
The majority opinion, penned by Trump appointee Neomi Rao, said allowing the case to continue would intrude on the executive branch’s prerogatives to control criminal prosecutions. Rao said even scheduling a hearing — as Sullivan had done for next month — was improper under the circumstances because there was no good reason to doubt the government’s decision to reverse course.”
“Rao’s majority opinion leans heavily on the “presumption of regularity” often afforded to executive branch decision-making — the notion that courts should presume prosecutorial decisions are made in good faith. Through this lens, Rao and Henderson concluded, the Justice Department’s discovery of new evidence that cast doubt on Flynn’s guilt should be treated with deference.
Wilkins, an Obama appointee, issued a sharply worded dissent. The government’s U-turn in the case, he said, was so abrupt that a judge could reasonably question it.
“This is no mere about-face; it is more akin to turning around an aircraft carrier,” Wilkins wrote.
Wilkins also complained that his colleagues were departing with normal federal court practice by prematurely intruding in the affairs of a district court judge who had not yet ruled.”