Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is currently facing charges for his role in the ongoing Flint water crisis. A request by Snyder’s legal team to have those charges dismissed was rejected by a judge on Thursday.
According to the Associated Press, Snyder’s legal team attempted to get the charges dismissed on a technicality, arguing that since he worked in Ingham County, and not Genesee County, the grand jury indictment was filed in the wrong place. Judge William Crawford II basically said “nah” in legalese, arguing that prosecutors have flexibility in determining where to file a case.
“The state Legislature does not want strict adherence to territorial boundaries applied to nebulous concepts of venue,” adding that doing so could “impede justice,” Crawford said in his ruling.
Snyder’s legal team plans to appeal the ruling, with AP noting that this will likely be the first of a series of challenges by the legal team to avoid Snyder having to face trial. Snyder’s case is unusual in that it’s one of the rare instances a Michigan governor has been charged for acts they allegedly committed while in office.
Snyder served as Michigan’s governor until 2019 and is currently facing charges for failing to declare an emergency in Flint in a timely manner. In 2014, while Snyder was in office, the water system in Flint was switched to use water from the Flint river. The water wasn’t properly treated for corrosion and this resulted in lead from the old pipes getting into the water supply that was used by the predominantly Black population of Flint to drink and bathe for over 18 months.
Additionally, experts believe that bacteria in the water also resulted in a rise of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint. The crisis is still ongoing, as not all of the pipes in Flint have been replaced, and the entire situation has been cited as an example of environmental racism.
The indictment against Snyder alleges that he didn’t act in a timely manner to address the problem when he discovered it and violated the state’s constitution by not properly overseeing the performance of the officials who were responsible for the water switch.
Snyder’s attorney, Brian Lennon, has repeatedly claimed this case is motivated by politics. “The governor cares deeply for those affected by Flint’s water problems, and while in office, did everything in his power to help address them as facts and information became known,” Lennon told AP.
Yes, because nothing says “care” like letting people drink contaminated water, (allegedly) keeping it hush hush to make sure you don’t look bad and working hard to ensure you don’t face any consequences from the mess you created.
Snyder is not the only Michigan official currently facing charges over the Flint water crisis, as eight other former state officials are currently facing charges that include involuntary manslaughter and willful neglect of duty.