Attorneys: Ex-governor charged in flawed county over Flint

Attorneys: Ex-governor charged in wrong county over Flint

LANSING, Michigan – Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s attorneys strike back, telling prosecutors Tuesday that the Flint Water case should be dismissed because it was indicted in the wrong county.

LANSING, Michigan – Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s attorneys strike back, telling prosecutors Tuesday that the Flint Water case should be dismissed because it was indicted in the wrong county.

Snyder was charged with two deliberate neglect of duty last week. He was charged by a Genesee County judge who acted as a grand juror considering evidence from prosecutors.

“None of these allegations of impracticability or failure to act occurred while the former governor was in the city of Flint. At all times in the indictment, our client was the presiding governor of Michigan with the governor’s executive office located in the Romney building in downtown Lansing, “Attorney Brian Lennon said in a letter to the prosecutor.

The letter was attached to a request for documents and other evidence from the prosecutor, a typical defense step in criminal proceedings. Lennon stated in the letter that he would soon officially ask Judge William Crawford to dismiss the case against the former Republican governor.

A hearing was held in Snyder’s case on Tuesday. The next hearing was scheduled for February 23.

“The reason we haven’t filed a dismissal is because we’re trying to give the government a chance to acknowledge this mistake and willingly dismiss the charges against Governor Snyder,” Lennon told the judge.

Deputy Attorney General Bryant Osikowicz sought time to review and respond to the pending dismissal request. A spokeswoman for the attorney general declined to comment on the venue’s issue.

Snyder was one of nine people indicted in a new investigation into the Flint water crisis, including former director of the State Department of Health, Nick Lyon. The disaster in the impoverished, largely black city has been described as an example of environmental injustice and racism.

The emergency manager appointed by Snyder used the Flint River as drinking water in 2014-15 without properly treating it to reduce corrosion. Lead from old pipes contaminated the system. Separately, the water has been blamed by some experts for the Legionnaires Disease outbreak, which killed at least 12 people in the area and fell ill dozens more.

Lyon and former head of state Eden Wells have faced nine cases of involuntary manslaughter.

Snyder’s attorney said the defense will soon be collecting the grand jury records. She also wants to know potentially millions of documents and hundreds of electronic devices that have been seized and if steps were taken to ensure investigators did not have access to attorney-client communications or other privileged materials.

“If a dirty team is not deployed, the integrity of the entire investigation against Governor Snyder and others will be challenged and undermined,” Lennon said.

As with the old criminal investigation, the state will pay the legal costs of former civil servants and employees who bring charges. In return, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s government will cap the costs.

The maximum hourly rate for lawyers cannot exceed $ 225. Some lawyers were paid two to three times what they were before. The state will also set a “cap” of US $ 175,000 on a defendant’s legal services before and during a trial, which can only be increased if a contract administrator recommends it.

The aim is to ensure uniform treatment across the defendants’ previous divisions and control costs to ensure accountability, the governor’s office said.

Jim Haveman, a former state health director who supports Lyon, criticized the new policy. Legal fees and charges in the first case against Lyon were $ 1.6 million over a 19-month period. In 2019, prosecutors working under the new Attorney General Dana Nessel dismissed charges against Lyon and seven others and opened a new investigation.

In an email, Haveman urged Whitmer and lawmakers “to correct this injustice and ensure that all defendants have the best possible defense”.


White reported from Detroit.

Ed White and David Eggert, The Associated Press