Ad Spot

One on One: Taking a punch

By D.G. Martin

“And he can take a punch.”

A former colleague was describing John Gleeson, who popped into the news last week when U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan appointed him to an unusual assignment.

Judge Sullivan presided over the prosecution of retired General Michael Flynn for lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. After the judge accepted Flynn’s guilty plea, it became his responsibility to impose the sentence.

But before sentencing took place, Attorney General William Barr directed Justice Department lawyers to move for Sullivan to dismiss all charges against Flynn, explaining that, based on a new review, Flynn had not committed the crimes to which he had pled guilty.

Sullivan is on the spot. He had accepted Flynn’s guilty plea and arguably has the power and responsibility to move forward with the sentencing. On the other hand, ordinarily if a prosecutor determines that a defendant is innocent and asks for the charges to be dropped, a judge would be accommodating.

Not necessarily this time, thought Judge Sullivan. Before he decides to dismiss the charges against Flynn or move forward with sentencing, he wants to hear arguments against Barr’s and Flynn’s assertion that no crime was committed.

John Gleeson, a former federal judge and, before that, a prosecutor of New York mobsters, is the man Judge Sullivan chose to make those arguments.

Who is this man who will be confronting the combined forces of Flynn’s attorneys, Barr’s Justice Department, and President Donald Trump?

As a federal prosecutor Gleeson led the successful effort to finally convict mobster John Gotti in 1992. According to a May 14 article in The New York Times, Gordon Mehler, Gleeson’s co-worker during that time said, “There was a feeling among our generation of prosecutors that John was a rock star. He was super smart, but also incredibly hardworking.

“And he could take a punch.”

Learning about Gleeson, I realized how important it is to be able to take a punch. I thought about a long list of people I admire, who after taking a hard punch in the gut, were able to work through the experience and turn it into a positive.

Gary Pearce’s 2010 biography of former Governor Jim Hunt told one of my favorite stories about how taking a punch can lead to important accomplishments.

In the 1964 governor’s race, the ambitious Hunt worked hard for Richardson Preyer, hoping to gain an important position in Preyer’s administration. Preyer’s loss ended that hope. Later in the year, Hunt flunked the bar exam, postponing his aspiration to practice law.

That double punch in the gut led to his leaving North Carolina for a two-year stint as an economic advisor in Nepal. He worked at a high level to develop an economic plan for the entire nation. Hunt says, “I learned to get a big view of a country . . . What you have to do to develop a nation – the importance of educating people, providing infrastructure like roads, electricity, banks.”

His time in Nepal made him more pragmatic and less ideological. “It isn’t just a matter of dividing the pie. You can grow the pie. That’s a fundamental thing to know.”

When Pearce’s book first came out, I wrote, “My theory, based on Pearce’s short description of the Nepal experience, is that it, as much as anything else, set Hunt apart. If Richardson Preyer had won or Jim Hunt had passed the bar exam, Hunt would have missed Nepal. His life and North Carolina history would have made for a much different story from the one Gary Pearce tells so well.”

Hunt’s ability to take a punch and come back stronger made North Carolina a better place.

Hopefully, Gleeson’s proven ability to take one will serve the public similarly.

One thing for sure, if he challenges the forces of the president, those punches will come hard and fast.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” Sundays and 3:30 p.m. and Tuesdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. The program also airs on the North Carolina Channel Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and other times.

FOR MORE COLUMNS AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, CHECK OUT OUR OPINION SECTION HERE.

News

Tourism Board awards grants, holds on COVID-19 grant for now

Lifestyles

New Corolla colt named Sebastian

News

Boyd appointed to state commission

News

Dare County states budget priorities

News

Nesting loggerhead sea turtle found dead, likely hit by vehicle

Lifestyles

Memorial Day: A time of remembrance

Schools

Columbia High School to have ‘drive through’ graduation ceremony

News

Flood maps approved by Southern Shores Planning Board

News

North Carolina Ferry Service adds trips to schedule

Lifestyles

Trash collection normal for Memorial Day in unincorporated Dare; hazardous waste collection scheduled

News

Nags Head looks at permits for restaurants, revisits recycling

News

COVID-19 case number remains 22 for Dare

News

Duck Town Council approves ordinances at mid-month meeting

News

Dare commissioners approve temporary provisions for restaurants and food trucks

Business

Steps small businesses can take to help navigate COVID-19

Business

Sunshine Family Pharmacy offers free delivery service

Lifestyles

Governor Cooper proclaims May Mental Health Month

News

Lawsuit alleges NC laws expose many voters to virus risks

Lifestyles

Turtle with ‘perfect golf ball impression’ in shell patched up, returned to Nags Head golf course

Crime

Kitty Hawk man faces DWI, hit and run charges for Friday incident

Hyde

Coastal Land Trust announces acquisition of inholdings at Springer’s Point Preserve

Hyde

Changes made to the Ocracoke Development Ordinance

News

Forecast: Pandemic predicted to take $4B bite out of state revenue

News

North Carolina unemployment rate increases to 12% amid COVID-19