Judge delays decision in misdemeanor case against former Gov. Rick Snyder | Michigan Radio
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Judge delays decision in misdemeanor case against former Gov. Rick Snyder

Feb 23, 2021

There is a question whether the state’s case against former Gov. Rick Snyder will be able to move forward before the judge currently assigned the case.

The former governor is charged with two counts of Willful Neglect of Duty related to his handling of the Flint Water Crisis.

But during a brief court hearing Tuesday morning, District Court Judge William Crawford II delayed arguments until next month on a pair of defense motions to dismiss the misdemeanor counts against Snyder.

Credit File photo

The judge wants to give both sides time to argue whether he’s the right judge to hear the case.

Crawford questions whether this matter should be brought before a higher court.

Crawford says he’s being asked to rule on areas of law he is not well acquainted with and to potentially review a decision made by a higher court.

“I think it’s fair to say that no stone is being left unturned in this case by the prosecution or the defense,” Crawford told the attorneys over a Zoom conference.

Snyder’s lawyers argue he should not be facing trial in Genesee County since the actions cited by prosecutors would have happened in the governor’s office in Ingham County.   The defense also argues that the judge, acting as a one-person grand jury that issued the indictments, did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.

Defense attorney Brian Lennon says this could have been avoided if the Michigan Attorney General’s office would dismiss the charges and charge Rick Snyder in Ingham County.

“We could save both the people and my client a whole lot of money...if they dismiss here and walk over the Ingham County,” says Lennon.

Prosecutors told the judge they won’t be doing that.

Meanwhile, Judge William Crawford has denied another defendant’s motion to remove himself from hearing the case since the judge lives in Flint.

Former Flint Public Works Director Howard Croft is also charged with Willful Neglect of Duty in the city’s water crisis.   Croft’s lawyers argued Crawford should step aside since as a resident of Flint he was affected by the water crisis and a potential litigant in a $641 million settlement of civil claims related to the water crisis.

In all, nine people are facing new criminal charges in connection with the water crisis. Seven of the nine are facing felony charges, including involuntary manslaughter.  

Emergency managers appointed by then-Gov. Rick Snyder switched Flint’s drinking water source to save the city money. But the water taken from the Flint River was not properly treated. The result was corrosive water damaged aging city pipes releasing lead and other contaminants into Flint’s drinking water.   

The switch occurred in April of 2014. The water source was switched back in October 2015.    

But by then, data showed a spike in blood lead levels in Flint children. During that same time, Genesee County also endured an outbreak of Legionaries Disease that sickened scores of residents and killed at least a dozen.