Advance Notice: Briefs

Federal judge drops Flint water crisis charges against Snyder

By: - December 9, 2022 3:14 pm

Gov. Rick Snyder, (R-MI), speaks during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, about the Flint, Michigan water crisis, on Capitol Hill March 17, 2016 in Washington, DC. | Mark Wilson, Getty Images

A Genesee County judge dismissed two criminal charges against former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in the Flint water crisis, saying the charges “were not properly brought.”

Snyder, a Republican who left office in 2019, had been charged with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty in January 2021, to which he pleaded not guilty.

Genesee County Judge F. Kay Behm signed the order Wednesday. The day prior, the U.S. Senate approved Behm’s nomination to serve on the federal bench in Michigan’s Eastern District with a 49-47 vote. 

In June, the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a judge lacked the authority in 2021 to indict Snyder, his former Health Director Nick Lyon and seven others on charges related to the Flint water crisis and that indictments returned by a one-person grand jury were invalid.

A one-judge grand jury is often used to protect witnesses who can testify in secret.

Genesee County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Kelly in October dismissed felony charges against seven other state officials after the Supreme Court’s ruling, including Lyon; Dr. Eden Wells, former DHHS chief medical executive; Richard Baird, former transformation manager and senior adviser for Snyder; Jarrod Agen, former senior aide to Snyder; former Flint Emergency Managers Gerald Ambrose and Darnell Earley; and Nancy Peeler, former manager of DHHS’ early childhood health section.

Only one case related to the Flint water crisis remains in the courts. Former Flint public works official, Howard Croft, still has misdemeanor charges pending.

The water crisis devastated the city of Flint. The scandal left at least 12 people dead and thousands of people, including children, with lead-contaminated drinking water in what residents, activists and researchers have described as one of the most egregious cases of environmental racism the state, and country, has ever faced.

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8.