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Michigan's solicitor general files motions to restart Flint water crisis criminal cases

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Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio
Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud (file photo)

Friday, state prosecutors filed motions to restart Flint water crisis criminal cases dealt a setback by the Michigan Supreme Court.

This week, the Supreme Court ruled the one-man grand jury process that produced indictments against former governor Rick Snyder and eight others was flawed.

The high court’s decision says the Genesee County Circuit Court improperly allowed the unusual process of having a one-person grand jury indict the former officials without a preliminary hearing.

The court’s ruling applied to three defendants: Former Chief Medical Officer Eden Wells, former MDDHS director Nick Lyon and former aide to former Governor Rick Snyder, Richard Baird.

The high court sent the case back to the circuit court.

The decision raised the possibility that charges would be dropped. Attorneys for former Governor Snyder said they would be moving to have all criminal charges against him dismissed based on the Supreme Court ruling.

But Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud said the legal process is moving forward.

"The Supreme Court did not question the merit of our cases, nor evaluate the evidence in these proceedings,” said Hammoud. “The opinion issued by the Court outlined new rules regarding the process related to Michigan’s one-man grand jury statute and these motions comply with those rules.”

The motions filed Friday:

The first motions apply to the defendants facing felony charges, asking for the cases to be remanded to the District Court for preliminary exams, in accordance with the Supreme Court’s opinion.

The second motions apply to the defendants charged only with misdemeanors. These motions inform the Court the cases will proceed as though upon formal complaint, as allowed under the criminal statute MCL 767.4.

“As prosecutors, it is our duty to pursue all available means to secure justice for the people we serve, and I am committed to seeing this prosecution through to its conclusion," said Kym Worthy, Wayne County Prosecutor and co-leader of the Flint water prosecution team.

The indictments were originally handed down in January, 2021.

It was the second time officials were charged with criminal counts related to the Flint water crisis. Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office dropped the original charges, citing problems with the previous investigation.

Flint’s drinking water supply was contaminated with lead after a switch to the Flint River as its source. The river water was not properly treated.

At the time, the city of Flint was under the control of an emergency manager appointed by then-Governor Rick Snyder.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.