A district judge in Genesee County tossed a pair of misdemeanor charges levied against former Gov. Rick Snyder for his involvement in the Flint Water Crisis, citing previous court rulings that state prosecutors incorrectly used a "one-person grand jury" to indict Snyder.
Snyder, who was governor in Michigan from 2011 to 2019, was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty by a public official. Genesee County Judge F. Kay Behm signed an order remanding the charges Wednesday.
Behm's order technically does not dismiss the charges, but sends them back to a lower court for dismissal.
Behm cited a Michigan Supreme Court ruling from June which stated government prosecutors erred in 2021 when they had a circuit judge serve as a "one-man grand jury" to indict Snyder and the other officials. She also noted circuit court rulings to dismiss charges against other former state officials which cited the Supreme Court ruling.
Snyder is the latest former official to have charges tossed related to the Flint Water Crisis, although state prosecutors, led by Attorney General Dana Nessel, have vowed to continue seeking charges related to the case. In October, charges for seven other former state and Flint officials were dismissed, although the state's prosecution team has indicated it will appeal the decision to dismiss the charges.
In a statement, the prosecuting team said it plans to appeal Behm's order.
"As we have reiterated time and again, rulings up to this point have been on process alone - not on the merits of the case," the unattributed statement says. "We are confident that the evidence clearly supports the criminal charges against Rick Snyder, and we will not stop until we have exhausted all possible legal options to secure justice for the people of Flint."
Snyder's lawyer, Brian Lennon, said in a statement the prosecution efforts have been "amateurish and unethical."
"The state has already wasted millions of taxpayer dollars pursuing meritless misdemeanor charges and this case should now be considered closed," Lennon said. "The prosecution team's statement saying it will appeal this ruling is further proof that they intend to continue their efforts to weaponize the court system against their political enemies."
The Flint water crisis started in 2014 when the city switched water sources and lead, a neurotoxin particularly dangerous to children, leached from aging pipes into the city's water supply. As the city struggled with water quality, it also saw an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease and deaths.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Flint Water Crisis charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder tossed