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Prosecutors plan to appeal decision dismissing charges in Flint water crisis criminal investigation

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Steve Carmody
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Michigan Radio

Prosecutors say they plan to appeal a judge’s ruling this month to dismiss criminal charges against seven people indicted as part of the Flint water crisis investigation.

Earlier this month, Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Kelly dismissed felony charges against former MDHHS director Nick Lyon, former State Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells, former Flint emergency managers Darnell Early and Gerald Ambrose, two aides to former Governor Rick Snyder, and a former state employee.

Kelly’s decision followed a ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court that the one-person grand jury prosecutors used to secure indictments was flawed.

But the Flint Water prosecution team is not giving up.

The Michigan Attorney General’s office issued a statement from the prosecutors, though without directly attributing it to either Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud or Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who are leading the prosecution team:

“The residents of Flint have waited years for their day in court.  The court proceedings up to this point have been a challenge to the process, not the merits of the case. The public deserves to hear the evidence against these defendants.  Remanding these cases for preliminary exam is the next logical step in the legal process based on the ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court. 

The Michigan Supreme Court did not abolish the one-person grand jury, but instead more specifically defined the process, leaving a path for the prosecution to pursue charges against the defendants. The prosecution followed the law in using the one-person grand jury process from the beginning and is prepared to move forward on the valid warrants issued in these cases in compliance with the new process defined in the opinion from the Court. 

The prosecution is ready to present their case and looks forward to seeing the people of Flint have their day in Court.” 

The prosecutors' announcement of their intention to appeal Judge Kelly’s decision drew a sharp rebuke from one of the lawyers representing a defendant who’s charges have been dismissed.

Attorney Randall Levine represents Rich Baird. At the time of the Flint water crisis Baird was a top aide to then-Gov. Snyder. Baird was charged with perjury, obstruction and misconduct.

“The Michigan Supreme Court was very clear about its ruling in this case," Levine said.

"The government’s effort to dust off an archaic statute and proceed against Rich Baird in secrecy was resoundingly condemned by the high court. The government deliberately chose to utilize a one-person grand jury in order to circumvent Mr. Baird’s right to a preliminary examination and an opportunity to challenge the evidence which the government claims it has against him in open court.”

Meanwhile, Snyder is due in court on Wednesday.

He’s asking a different judge to dismiss the misdemeanor charges lodged against him related to the Flint water crisis.

Between April 2014 and October 2015, the city of Flint drew its drinking water from the Flint River. It was part of a plan to save the city money. But improperly treated river water damaged pipes, releasing lead and other contaminants into Flint's drinking water.

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.
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