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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Former Gov. Rick Snyder's attorney files motion to dismiss Flint water crisis charges

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Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio

Attorneys for former Governor Rick Snyder are formally asking a judge to toss two misdemeanor charges tied to the Flint water crisis.

Snyder was formally charged with willful neglect of duty as part of an investigation by the Michigan attorney general's office into alleged criminal activity tied to Flint’s lead tainted tap water.

But in a motion filed Monday, attorney Brian Lennon claimed the charges should be dismissed because the Genesee County judge, who acting as a one man grand jury, indicted Snyder, had no jurisdiction because the alleged crimes occurred in Ingham County. 

The motion also alleges the former governor shouldn’t be facing trial in Genesee County, since again, Snyder would have been in his Lansing office when the alleged crimes would have occurred.

"The prosecution has not (and cannot) set forth any factual basis that Governor Snyder’s alleged failures to act were committed in the City of Flint," writes Lennon in his motion to quash the indictment. 
 
Lennon raised the same issue during a pre-trial hearing last week.

Prosecutors oppose the motion.

Snyder is one of nine people criminally charged this month in connection with the Flint water crisis.

In April, 2014, the city of Flint’s drinking water source was switched in an effort to save money. However, water taken from the Flint River was not properly treated to reduce corrosion. The improperly treated river water damaged aging pipes, which released lead and other contaminants into the city’s tap water.  

In the fall of 2015, the city’s water source was switched back. But by then, the damage was done. Children’s blood lead levels spiked. Adults suffered a variety of health issues attributed to lead in the water. A Legionnaires' Disease outbreak killed at least a dozen people and sickened dozens more.

As governor, Rick Snyder appointed the emergency managers who oversaw Flint’s finances and directed the drinking water switch. His administration and the U.S. EPA came under fire for the slow response from the state and the federal government to the crisis. 

Snyder is facing only misdemeanor charges. But several of his appointees and other state officials are facing felony charges, including involuntary manslaughter.   

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