February 25, 2021

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Judge hearing dispute over proper venue in Flint water case

2 min read

A judge plans to hear arguments in a dispute over whether Flint water prosecutors charged a former Michigan governor in the wrong county

FLINT, Mich. — A judge plans to hear arguments Tuesday in a dispute over whether Flint water prosecutors charged a former Michigan governor in the wrong county.

Lawyers for Rick Snyder want two misdemeanor charges to be dismissed. They argue that Snyder worked in Ingham County, not Genesee County, so the indictment returned by a one-man grand jury in Flint should not stand.

Snyder, a Republican, is charged with willful neglect of duty. Emergency managers who were appointed by Snyder to run Flint switched the city’s water source to the Flint River in 2014-15 while a new pipeline was being built from Lake Huron.

The river water wasn’t treated to reduce corrosion, resulting in lead contamination from old pipes. Separately, the water was blamed for a fatal outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. The catastrophe in the impoverished, majority-Black city has been described as an example of environmental injustice and racism.

“The indictments are sound. … It is incoherent to suggest that breaching a duty owed to the people of a particular city does not entail a sufficient connection to that city to establish venue there,” prosecutors said last week in a response to Snyder’s motion.

But if Genesee is not the right county, then the case should be transferred to Ingham and not dismissed, prosecutors said.

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