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Flint water crisis charges dropped against former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder

Gov. Rick Snyder
A Genesee County judge has dismissed criminal charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder.
  • A circuit court judge has dismissed criminal charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder for his role in the Flint water crisis
  • The dismissal is the latest blow to Attorney General Dana Nessel’s prosecution team
  • Charges against seven other defendants were previously  dismissed

A Genesee County judge has ordered criminal charges dismissed against former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in connection with the Flint water crisis.

It’s the latest in a spate of dismissals after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in June that Michigan improperly relied on a one-person grand jury to bring charges against Snyder and a host of other officials involved in the crisis.

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Circuit Court Judge F. Kay Behm ruled Wednesday that the charges warranted dismissal because they “were not properly brought.” She sent the case back to the county's 67th District Court for an order of dismissal.

 

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After the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously ruled that prosecutors could not use a one-person grand jury to issue indictments, the case was kicked back to Genesee Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Kelly, who dismissed charges against seven defendants in October.

Snyder, who left office in 2019, was not included in that ruling, because he faced misdemeanor charges in a lower court. But his lawyers asked a judge to apply the “same law and logic” to dismiss the charges against him.

“We’re pleased the judge ruled the case should be dismissed, and we hope this is the end of this matter,” Brian Lennon, an attorney for Snyder, told Bridge Michigan on Friday.

In a statement, prosecutors in Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office called the decision “not surprising” and vowed to appeal. 

“We anticipated that this ruling would be similar to other outcomes that only considered process,” the statement read. “Our team has been preparing for this and looks forward to addressing these issues in court.”

Calling the ruling a decision “on process alone,” the prosecution team said it believes the evidence “clearly supports the criminal charges against Rick Snyder, and we will not stop until we have exhausted all possible legal options to secure justice for the people of Flint.” 


Nessel’s office is also appealing the earlier court decision to drop charges against the other seven defendants, arguing the charges should be remanded for preliminary examination, rather than dismissed.

“The prosecution is ready to present their case and looks forward to seeing the people of Flint have their day in court,” the state prosecution team stated when it announced plans to appeal in October. 

The spate of dismissals are blows to Nessel, who threw out earlier Flint charges after taking office in 2019 and relaunched the state’s investigation with Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy at the helm. They issued charges in January 2021, sparking immediate outcry from defendants’ lawyers for using a secretive one-person grand jury.

Flint City Councilman Eric Mays decried the case’s recent setbacks as a predictable outcome of Nessel’s 2019 decision to drop already-filed charges in the case, which he said “didn’t make sense and still don’t.”

“It was a lot of court time and testimony and sworn things under oath,” Mays said Friday. “That work shouldn’t have just been dismissed like that.”

The Flint water crisis was triggered in April 2014, when a Snyder-appointed emergency manager approved switching Flint’s drinking water source from the Great Lakes Water Authority to the Flint River, without requiring anti-corrosion chemicals to keep lead from leaching out of pipes. The decision caused a lead crisis that also coincided with two outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease and 12 deaths.

Mays said he still holds out hope for the case against Snyder and others to prevail, but “at the rate they've been going, if I hold my breath, I might check out and be dead.”

 

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