Follow the Judicial Logic, if you can

A few last words on Judge Rao’s ideologically-driven decision on Flynn’s emergency application for immediate dismissal of the case against him. I can’t let this one go, because, as Federalist Society spokesman and former Boeing lawyer Judge J. Michael Luttig wrote in the NY Times the other day, this case is “the most consequential political constitutional case in recent memory.” True dat.

Judge Rao’s legally legless 2-1 decision takes a historically destructive position, like the most notorious of our cases. In this “not unusual” case she rules that the requirements of the law must yield to even the most seemingly irrational, partisan demands of a powerful president.

See if you can follow the logic of former law professor Noemi Rao (appointed by the current president to fill the seat left vacant when B. Kavanuagh was promoted):

Whatever the precise scope of Rule 48’s “leave of court” requirement [court decides when and how to dismiss case — ed.], this is plainly not the rare case where further judicial inquiry is warranted.

Nothing rare here, “plainly not”? Defendant admits guilt and then DOJ, two years later decides that what he pleaded guilty to was not actually a crime? Is there one other case in this category in anyone’s memory?

Because legal errors ordinarily may be corrected on appeal, a writ of mandamus is proper only if there is “no other adequate means to attain … relief.” Cheney, 542 U.S. at 380. Although “an abstract concern with the separation of powers,” does not rise to the level of an irreparable injury, In re Al Nashiri, 791 F.3d 71, 79–81 (D.C. Cir. 2015), we have found the requisite harm as a matter of course when a party alleges the district court’s action usurps a specific executive power. See In re Cheney, 406 F.3d 723, 731 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (en banc); Fokker Servs., 818 F.3d at 749; Cobell v. Norton,
334 F.3d 1128, 1139–40 (D.C. Cir. 2003); In re Sealed Case No. 98-3077, 151 F.3d 1059, 1065–66 (D.C. Cir. 1998).

In this case, the district court’s actions will result in specific harms to the exercise of the Executive Branch’s exclusive prosecutorial power. The contemplated proceedings would likely require the Executive to reveal the internal deliberative process behind its exercise of prosecutorial discretion, interfering with the Article II charging authority. Newman, 382 F.2d at 481 (citing United States v. Cox, 342 F.2d 167, 171 (5th Cir. 1965)). Thus, the district court’s appointment of the amicus and demonstrated intent to
scrutinize the reasoning and motives of the Department of Justice constitute irreparable harms that cannot be remedied on appeal.

So because Flynn’s lawyer, in asking for this rare, emergency relief, alleges that harm to the Executive Branch will be grievous and irredeemable, we must grant a no appeal decision to Flynn, no matter what the other facts of this highly unusual case?

We must also assure ourselves that issuance of the writ “is appropriate under the circumstances.” Cheney, 542 U.S. at 381. The circumstances of this case demonstrate that mandamus is appropriate to prevent the judicial usurpation of executive power.

Here the harm alleged, “usurpation of executive power,” is to the government, not to Flynn, the party making the emergency application for extraordinary relief. Flynn, the one seeking the emergency decree (with the legal support of Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, et al) has an appeal available, if the trial judge tries to do something beyond the scope of the court. That fact alone rules out the extraordinary relief Judge Rao grants to Flynn.

Finally, each of our three coequal branches should be encouraged to self-correct when it errs. If evidence comes to light calling into question the integrity or purpose of an underlying criminal investigation, the Executive Branch must have the authority to decide that further prosecution is not in
the interest of justice.

This president, in particular, has demonstrated his readiness to self-correct. Obviously. He does this by doubling down, attacking critics, firing whistleblowers and watchdogs, vilifying them as disloyal traitors, stupid idiots, sick, dangerous, crooked, little, insane, smelly, “dumb as a bag of rocks,” while obstructing all investigations and so forth. Like any self-correcting branch of government will do.

Because this is not the unusual case where a more searching inquiry is justified, and because there is no adequate remedy for the intrusion on “the Executive’s long-settled primacy over charging decisions,” Fokker Servs., 818 F.3d at 743, we grant the petition for mandamus in part and order the
district court to grant the government’s Rule 48(a) motion to dismiss the charges against Flynn.

Not the unusual case? Judge Rao rules for the benefit of a party not in court, the Executive Branch — that alone is kind of unusual. Flynn has the usual right of appeal, which, again, means he is not eligible for the extraordinary legal remedy of mandamus. So what, reasons Judge Rao, if the moving party has no right to what the court seeks to grant, what about POOR UNFAIRLY PERSECUTED MR. TRUMP?!!! Poor Mr. Barr!!!

Not the unusual case, you dig. Nothing to see here! Fokker! Fokker!!!

I really wanted to end there, but this bit from her response to the excellent and legally impeccable dissent is worth reading:

First, the dissent glosses over the presumption of regularity to which the Executive is entitled in the exercise of its prosecutorial discretion. While the district court is not a “rubber stamp” when considering whether to grant “leave of court” under Rule 48, Ammidown, 497 F.2d at 622, any judicial inquiry is strictly bounded by the presumption of regularity, and the presumption is overcome only in extraordinary cases and by “clear evidence to the contrary,” Armstrong, 517 U.S. at 464.

Here, while forcing a judge to “rubber stamp” a motion he doesn’t like the smell of, there will be, pursuant to the writ of mandamus, no clear evidence of anything, outside of the government’s sudden, irrefutable insistence that a guilty man committed no triable crime, will be permitted. Just like in Trump’s impeachment– no evidence allowed! No hearing whatsoever will be allowed prior to “leave of the court” to dismiss the case as ordered by a superior court. How you like that Catch-22?

Not the unusual case, you dig. Nothing to see here! Fokker! Fokker!!!

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