DETROIT – Lawyers for former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder urged a judge Tuesday to dismiss misdemeanor charges related to the Flint water crisis, a week after another judge took that step with seven other former officials.
Snyder wasn't covered by Judge Elizabeth Kelly's decision because she was overseeing felony charges against the seven. But his legal team said the “same law and logic” must be applied, especially after the Michigan Supreme Court said the indictments were invalid.
“This court should reach the same conclusion,” attorney Gaetan Gerville-Reache said in a filing.
Snyder's next hearing with Judge F. Kay Behm is set for Oct. 26. He is charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty.
In 2014, Flint managers appointed by Snyder took the city out of a regional water system and began using the Flint River to save money while a new pipeline to Lake Huron was being built. But the river water wasn’t treated to reduce its corrosive qualities. Lead broke off from old pipes and contaminated the system for more than a year.
Snyder and eight others, including his administration's two senior health officials, were indicted by a one-judge grand jury, an unusual, secretive way to get criminal charges in Michigan. The Supreme Court, however, said in June that a judge doesn't have that authority, throwing the investigation of the water scandal into disarray.
Kelly rejected efforts by the attorney general's office to simply send the cases to Flint District Court and turn them into common criminal complaints. Prosecutors are trying to do the same in Snyder's case — a “magical conversion,” Gerville-Reache said.
It's possible that prosecutors could start from scratch and file charges again, though a six-year statute of limitations could be a hurdle with Snyder and others.
Flint in 2015 returned to a water system based in southeastern Michigan. Roughly 10,100 lead or steel water lines had been replaced at homes by December 2021.
The city had 100,000 residents in 2010, but the population fell roughly 20% to 81,000 by the 2020 census following the water crisis, according to the government.
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