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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Former Gov. Rick Snyder may plead the 'Fifth' if called to testify at Flint water crisis civil trial

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Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio
Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder

Former Governor Rick Snyder doesn’t want to testify at a civil trial in Federal court concerning the Flint water crisis.

The civil trial concerns damage claims by four children exposed to Flint’s tainted drinking water. They’re suing two engineering firms (Veolia North America and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam) which consulted on Flint’s water system.

Snyder has been subpoenaed as a potential witness.

The former governor was deposed by attorneys in the civil case, before he was indicted on two misdemeanor counts of Willful Neglect of Duty connected to water crisis. His attorneys say Snyder “maintains his innocence.”

In a legal brief filed with the federal court Friday, Snyder’s attorneys have informed the federal judge in the civil trial that, if he’s called to testify, the former governor will invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege as to any question that conceivably could be put to him at a criminal trial.

“The parties have made clear that they intend to ask Governor Snyder questions at trial that go to the same issues underlying his criminal charges,” reads part of the request filed by Snyder’s attorneys to quash the subpoena.

The former governor’s request to quash the subpoenas will likely be the subject of a hearing later this month.

The current civil trial started last month and is expected to take four months.

It’s being referred to as a “bellwether” trial. It's called that because it could predict how other plaintiffs may fare if they decide to proceed to trial against these defendants.

This is unrelated to the $626 million master settlement of civil claims against the state of Michigan, city of Flint and two local businesses. More than 50,000 people have applied to be part of the settlement. They have until May to complete the application process.

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