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Snyder asks judge to dismiss all Flint water charges against him

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 11:18 AM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Former Gov. Rick Snyder formally asked a Genesee County judge to dismiss all charges against him in the Flint water crisis investigation.

Snyder is charged with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty for allegedly failing to properly supervise his staff and failing to declare a State of Emergency for Flint while in office. The Michigan Attorney General’s Office announced the charges last month.

The state’s Flint water criminal investigation team used a single-judge grand jury to bring charges against Snyder and eight other top officials from his administration, who prosecutors say are responsible for the water crisis.

Snyder’s defense attorneys claim the Genesee County judge who served as a grand juror only could issue charges for crimes that occurred in the county. However, the attorneys argue that Snyder would have been in Lansing when the allegations against him took place.

“The government can make it very easy on us, as we said at the arraignment. They can just dismiss and walk over to Lansing and file it, like they do thousands of other misdemeanor cases,” said attorney Brian Lennon, who is representing Snyder. “So, we can save the bulk of people and my client a lot of money if they just -- it’s a misdemeanor case if they just simply dismiss here and walk over to Ingham County.”

Snyder’s team filed an 18-page explanation of their argument Sunday. Genesee County Circuit Judge William Crawford said the information is too much to digest in one work day on top of his other daily duties, so he couldn’t make an immediate decision Tuesday on whether to throw out the case.

“Don’t remember that in law school. Don’t remember that on the bar exam either,” Crawford said. “So, depending on your experiences and practice you may be well acquainted with it, but this is all new to me.”

Jarrad Agen, who is Snyder’s former communications director, also has asked for the charges against him to be dismissed for the same reasons. Crawford questioned what happens if they come up with different answers.

“My question is whether or not this matter should more properly be brought before maybe and potentially Judge Newblatt or the chief judge for the Genesee County Circuit Court, or perhaps even Court of Appeals,” Crawford said.

But before any of that is addressed, Crawford wants both sides to decide if he’s the right judge for the case. Former Flint Public Works Director Howard Croft argued that Crawford should be removed from the case because he was a victim of the water crisis as a city resident.

Crawford issued a motion saying he can stay on the case, but the county’s chief judge will have the final say on that issue.

Snyder’s defense team and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office will be back in court Monday for more arguments about whether Crawford should be removed from the case. Crawford is planning to decide in two weeks whether Snyder’s charges should move to a Lansing court if he remains on the case.

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