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EXPLAINER: Years later, Flint water court fight drags on

EXPLAINER: Years later, Flint water court fight drags on

The Michigan authorities have long promised to criminalize key officials for lead pollution and health problems caused by a harmful water spill in Flint in 2014.

Not much was seen more than eight years ago.

Last: a rare Tuesday reprimand from the state’s highest court, which merged to release the plaintiff against former governor Rick Snyder and eight others.

The Attorney General’s Office promises to continue, even if the barriers remain, even if new cases continue, including the age of all alleged crimes and the dispute over documents, which may take years to complete. Prosecutor General Fadwa Hammoud, who has led the investigation since 2019, said he was “determined to see this process through”.

A look at where things are:


The court ruled 6-0 that a judge who secretly heard evidence while sitting as a human grand jury did not have the power to bring charges, ironically likening it to justice behind closed doors in the Middle Ages.

Michigan’s approach is so unique that the court apparently hasn’t challenged it yet. Prosecutors usually file cases and then negotiate with defense attorneys to have a judge decide if there is enough evidence to try.

Snyder, a Republican, is charged with willful neglect of duty. Flint executives named he drained water from the Flint River in 2014 when a new Lake Huron pipeline was built. Lead from obsolete city lines has been contaminating the system for more than a year because harmful water has not been properly treated.

Snyder’s Director of Health Nick Lyon and former Michigan Medical Director Dr. Eden Wells, is accused of involuntarily killing nine people in connection with a legionnaire’s disease. Experts say Flint’s water lacks enough chlorine to kill bacteria.

CAN IT BE A NEW WRITING? Yes, in a more traditional way, but advocates are again aggressively challenged.

There is a six-year period for filing offenses, including two points against Snyder and two against former Flint, head of public works Howard Croft. It’s been almost seven years since Snyder acknowledged Flint’s hazardous lead problem in 2015 and moved the city back to the regional water system.

“This could be a problem for many prosecutions,” said lawyer John Bursch, a member of the Lyon legal team.

Lyon and Wells are accused of not informing the public at the time of the legionnaires’ explosion. They deny abuse. Deaths appear to fall within the 10-year crime limit.

“It is a great injustice to allow politicians – acting in their own interest – to sacrifice government services that perform their duties in good faith in difficult circumstances,” Lyon said earlier. Tuesday with reference to Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat.


Millions of documents – and millions of dollars.

When Nessel’s employees took over the investigation of Flint’s waters, they confiscated Snyder’s time records from the state government, which apparently contained confidential documents and documents protected by the privilege of a lawyer and a client. The lawyers called hostilely and insisted that the records be checked by an independent team. In both courts, they have won so far, although plaintiffs say document control can take more than $ 30 million and many years, depending on the amount.

Costs and time are irrelevant, Lyon lawyers said in an appeal to the state’s highest court.

“The prosecution does not have the time or money to store and use privileged material against a criminal suspect,” wrote attorney Ronald DeWaard.

YOU ARE FREE? The criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis began in 2016 under the leadership of Attorney General Bill Schuett and Special Prosecutor Todd Flood. No one was sentenced to prison.

Seven people begged not to compete with the crimes that were eventually removed from their records. These include Liane Shekter Smith, head of the state’s drinking water division, and Stephen Busch, another prominent water expert.

Flood insisted on gaining the cooperation of key witnesses and continued in big names, but after Nessel took office in 2019, he was in the spotlight. Shekter Smith was the only civil servant to be fired because of what happened in Flint. But the arbitrator said he was fired because he was in a hurry to find a “public scapegoat” and the state agreed to pay him $ 300,000.

According to records, Busch received $ 522,000 on vacation before returning to work in November.

Charles Williams II, a pastor in Detroit and a civil rights activist, said responsibility was too late in Flint.

Families in the Black City in particular, he added, deserve “truth and justice.”