Know the story of the Flint water crisis charges dropped for 7 former officials in the detailed news below.
Two former state health officials, who were blamed for Legionnaires’ disease deaths, were among seven individuals implicated in the Flint water scandal whose felony charges were dismissed on Tuesday by a Michigan judge.
After the Michigan Supreme Court stated in June that a different judge acting as a one-person grand jury lacked the authority to issue indictments, the dismissal was significant but not entirely unexpected.
The attorney general’s office tried to just send the cases to Flint District Court and turn them into criminal complaints, which is the usual way to file felony charges in Michigan. Judge Elizabeth Kelly turned them down. It was a desperate attempt to keep the ship afloat.
“From the beginning, everything resulting from the invalid indictments is irreconcilably tainted.”Simply put, no valid charges exist,” Kelly stated.
Rick Snyder, a former Republican governor, is unaffected by Kelly’s decision. This is only because another judge is handling his case and he was charged with two misdemeanors, including willful neglect of duty. However, a procedure that the Supreme Court deemed invalid led to his indictment. October 26 is his next court date.
In 2014, Snyder-appointed Flint managers began using the Flint River to save money while a new pipeline to Lake Huron was being built. This was done while the city was out of a regional water system. However, the corrosive qualities of the river water were not diminished by treatment. For more than a year, the system was tainted by lead from old pipes.
The Michigan Civil Rights Commission questioned whether the water switch and dismissal of complaints in the majority-Black city would have occurred in a white, prosperous community, and stated that it was the result of systemic racism.
After its most recent defeat, the attorney general’s office lashed out at the courts, claiming that Flint residents had been defeated by “well-connected, wealthy individuals with political power and influence.”
The statement read, “There are not sufficient words to express the anger and disappointment felt by our team, who have spent years working on this case only to see it thwarted based upon a new interpretation of a nearly century-old law.”
However, the fact that the Supreme Court’s summer opinion was unanimous was not mentioned by the prosecution. The office of the attorney general only stated that it will “continue its pursuit of justice for Flint.” It did not specify what will happen next.
In addition to lead contamination, the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, which typically spreads through cooling systems, was attributed to the Flint River water.
In nine deaths linked to Legionnaires, former
Eden Wells and former state health director Nick Lyon were charged with involuntary manslaughter. They were accused of failing to notify the Flint area of the outbreak promptly.
Kelly’s decision was praised by Lyon’s attorneys, who also urged the attorney general’s office to end a “misguided prosecution.”
Chip Chamberlain and Ron DeWaard stated, “This misuse of the criminal justice system must stop.”False statements regarding Director Lyon’s actions or inactions do not contribute to a constructive public discussion and do not represent justice for anyone.
In addition to Lyon and Wells, charges were dropped against Rich Baird, Snyder’s longtime state government fixer; Jarrod Agen, a former senior aide; Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose, both former managers of Flint; and Nancy Peeler, a former manager of the health department.
If the attorney general’s office wants to file charges again, the six-year statute of limitations in Michigan could be a problem in some cases. However, the deadline would be extended for Wells and Lyon’s charges.
After a police investigation, Michigan’s prosecutor typically files felony charges in District Court. The majority of the time, a one-judge grand jury was used in Detroit and Flint to safeguard witnesses, particularly those involved in violent crimes, who could testify in private.
In the Flint water investigation, prosecutors Fadwa Hammoud and Kym Worthy took that route to hear evidence in secret and indict Snyder and others.
However, the Michigan Supreme Court stated that the law is clear: Indictments cannot be issued by a one-judge grand jury. It appears that the procedure had never been questioned.
It was referred to as a “Star Chamber comeback” by Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, a snide reference to the oppressive, closed-door system of justice that existed in England in the 17th century.
The effort to criminally prosecute those responsible for Flint’s lead-in-water catastrophe has lasted for years but yielded little.
Republican then-Attorney General Bill Schuette had promised to imprison people before retiring in 2019. However, the outcomes were different: Seven people pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges, and their records were eventually removed.
Dana Nessel, a Democrat who won the election, replaced special counsel Todd Flood with state solicitor general Hammoud and well-known Wayne County prosecutor Worthy.
Residents, according to Flint activist Melissa Mays, have been let down. She stated, “This group of people who promised Flint justice didn’t file the proper paperwork.”It’s not like they lost the trial; We were never even able to get that far. We owe the attorney general’s team the right to try again and do it right, but I know it won’t. It was only a spectacle.
Mays stated that Flint was poisoned, but “not one person is behind bars.” There is no doubt that lead affects the nervous system and brain, particularly in children. There is no known safe level of lead for children, according to experts.
As part of a $626 million settlement with Flint residents and property owners who were harmed by lead-contaminated water, the state agreed to pay $600 million in the face of a flurry of lawsuits. Children are getting the majority of the money.
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In 2015, Flint switched back to a water system in southeastern Michigan. By December of last year, approximately 10,100 lead or steel water lines had been replaced in homes. The city had 100,000 residents in 2010, but the government says that the water crisis caused the population to drop by 20% to 81,000 by the 2020 census.