Flint water crisis: Judge dismisses charges against former top state officials




CNN

A judge has dismissed charges against seven former Michigan state officials over their alleged role in the Flint water crisis, ruling that the charges were invalid because of a procedural flaw.

The cases against Eden Wells, Richard Baird, Jarrod Agen, Nancy Peeler, Gerald Ambrose, Nicolas Lyon and Darnell Earley were dismissed without prejudice on Tuesday.

“In other words, there is no valid charge to remand for preliminary examination,” wrote 7th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth A. Kelly. “This court must dismiss the charges against the defendants. If the People seek future charges against the defendants, they must follow one of the appropriate charging procedures outlined by the Supreme Court.”

Flint experienced a water crisis in 2015 when homes were found to have contaminated drinking water with dangerous levels of lead and other toxins, and residents reported children suffering from mysterious illnesses.

More than a dozen lawsuits were filed against the city of Flint, the state, water quality control officials, and state and city employees over the decision to switch the source of drinking water from the Detroit Water System to the contaminated Flint River. an effort to reduce costs.

Last year, city officials and state public health officials faced charges ranging from perjury and willful dereliction of duty to involuntary manslaughter.

In June, charges against the former Michigan officials were dismissed, CNN reported.

A panel of Michigan Supreme Court justices said prosecutors in Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office committed a procedural error when a Genesee County Circuit Court judge, serving as a grand jury, indicted nine former state officials, including former Gov. Rick Snyder. The judges called the action “alarming”.

Michigan state law does not allow a judge to serve as a one-person grand jury without a preliminary hearing, which was not done in this case, the state Supreme Court ruled at the time.

“Here, the defendants were not charged by indictment or through a regular grand jury indictment. Instead, a single person filed a false indictment, which was the basis for the arrest warrant,” Tuesday’s order said. “Therefore, the charging process is invalid.” The issuance of a warrant of arrest after an initial and invalid prosecution is not relevant in our view. Since the collection procedure in this matter was invalid, it would be inappropriate to remand for preliminary examination.’

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Attorney General Fadwa Hammoud and the Flint Water Prosecution Team released a statement expressing disappointment at Judge Kelly’s dismissal of the charges.

“There are no adequate words to express the anger and disappointment felt by our team, who have spent years seeing this case frustrated based on a new interpretation of a nearly century-old law,” the statement said. “Despite the prosecution’s tireless pursuit of justice for the victims of the water crisis, the courts have once again sided with wealthy and well-connected individuals with political power and influence over the families and children of Flint.”

Meanwhile, an attorney for former state Health and Human Services Director Nicolas Lyon released a statement calling the ruling “logical.”

“Today, the circuit court dismissed the case against Director Lyon, exactly as the Michigan Supreme Court ordered last summer. This ruling was the logical result of a wrongful prosecution that used illegal processes to investigate crimes that never happened,” Chip said. Chamberlain lawyers.