© 2022 MICHIGAN RADIO
91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

Judge hears motions to dismiss charges against former government officials in Flint water crisis probe

DSCN4909.JPG
Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio
"It is not innocent to refuse to inform them that this water could kill them. It’s not innocent, judge. It’s criminal. And that is why the defendant has been charged with these specific crimes,” says Assistant Michigan Attorney General Chris Kessel, while former MDHHS Nick Lyon (sitting center) consults with his defense attorneys.

Former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director Nick Lyon was in court Wednesday trying to convince a judge to drop involuntary manslaughter charges against him.

The charges against Lyon stem from his handling of a deadly Legionnaires' Disease outbreak during the water crisis.

During a court hearing Wednesday, Lyon's attorney John Bursch questioned the legal theory behind the charges.

“There is no applicable statute that says Director Lyon that had any particular duty to do any particular thing and certainly no statute that said he owed a particular duty to any person,” said Bursch.

But assistant state attorney general Chris Kessel argued Lyon failed to inform the public about the outbreak.

“It is not innocent to refuse to inform them that this water could kill them. It’s not innocent, judge. It’s criminal, and that is why the defendant has been charged with these specific crimes,” said Kessel.

Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Kelly said she’ll take the motion to dismiss the charges against Lyon under advisement.

Nick Lyon is one of nine people criminally charged a year ago this week as part of the state’s investigation into the Flint water crisis. Some of them, and many of their lawyers, were at Wednesday’s court hearing in Flint.

Defense attorneys have filed many motions before Judge Kelly, most of which challenge the prosecution’s cases against their clients.

On Wednesday, the judge heard a defense motion challenging the state’s case against Former Governor Rick Snyder’s chief of staff Jerrod Agen. The motion asks for a perjury charge against Agen to be dismissed over several issues.

Seth Waxman is Agen’s defense attorney. He vented to the judge about the slow pace of the case overall.

“We still, to this day — we have no definitive statement as to what the government alleges Mr. Agen has said [that] was false,” Waxman told the court.

There have been problems with the process of sharing evidence presented to the one-person grand jury who handed down indictments in the Flint water crisis investigation. The result is that the criminal prosecution has almost stalled.