(CN) - As their clients awaits sentencing on a charge of lying to the FBI, a federal judge delivered some good news to attorneys for former national security adviser Michael Flynn. He order special counsel Robert Mueller to turn over any "exculpatory evidence" he has in the criminal case to the ex-Trump official's defense team.
In an order signed Friday, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said federal prosecutors must timely provide Flynn's defense team with “any evidence in its possession that is favorable to defendant and material either to defendant’s guilt or punishment.”
Sullivan's order did not come due to any known request from the defense team and he did not explain his rationale for releasing it. Instead, he said only that the order was issued “sua sponte,” in other words, at his own volition.
In his four-page order, Sullivan cites Brady v. Maryland, in which the Supreme Court held that the government has a continuing obligation to produce all evidence required under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
"This government responsibility includes producing, during plea negotiations, any exculpatory evidence in the government’s possession. The government is further directed to produce all discoverable evidence in a readily usable form," Sullivan said.
"Finally, if the government has identified any information which is favorable to the defendant but which the government believes not to be material, the government shall submit such information to the Court for in camera review," the judge added.
Flynn was forced to resign as national security adviser in February 2017 after media reports revealed he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition, saying the two had not discuss Obama-era sanctions against the Kremlin.
Flynn pleaded guilty last year to one count of lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Kislyak. He has since been cooperating with Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference as part of the plea agreement.
Flynn is currently scheduled to be sentenced in May.
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