A federal judge in Washington, D.C. has been publicly reprimanded by a judicial oversight panel for her treatment of a lawyer representing President Donald Trump.
The Judicial Council of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a warning to Judge Emmet Sullivan on Wednesday, saying that it was concerned about his handling of a case involving former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
The council said that Sullivan had “failed to observe the high standards of judicial conduct” when he scolded Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, during a hearing in December 2019. At the time, Sullivan accused Powell of “playing games” with the court and suggested that she may have committed a crime by making false statements to the court.
The council said that Sullivan’s comments were “inappropriate and undermined the public’s confidence in the judicial system.” It said that Sullivan should have been more patient and respectful when dealing with Powell.
The council also noted that Sullivan had failed to provide a “full and fair hearing” to Powell, and that he had not given her sufficient opportunity to respond to his comments.
The council’s warning to Sullivan is significant because it is rare for a judge to be publicly reprimanded for their conduct. The council said that it was taking this action to ensure that judges maintain the highest standards of judicial conduct.
The council’s decision comes after a lengthy legal battle between the Trump administration and Flynn, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. Flynn later sought to withdraw his guilty plea, and the case was assigned to Sullivan.
The case has since been appealed to the Supreme Court, which is expected to decide whether Sullivan must accept Flynn’s request to withdraw his guilty plea. In the meantime, Sullivan’s handling of the case has been scrutinized by the judicial oversight panel, which has now found that he failed to meet the highest standards of judicial conduct.