Judge dismisses Flint water crisis criminal charges against ex-governor

Rick Snyder, a Michigan Republican who left office in 2019, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of misconduct

A judge has dismissed criminal charges against the ex-Michigan governor Rick Snyder in connection with the Flint water crisis, months after the state supreme court said indictments returned by a one-person grand jury were invalid.

Snyder, a Republican who left office in 2019, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of misconduct in office. He was the first person in state history to be charged for alleged crimes related to service as governor.

Snyder also is the eighth person to have a Flint water case thrown out after the supreme court’s unanimous June opinion.

Genesee county judge Kay Behm signed the order on Wednesday, a day after the US Senate approved her nomination to become a federal judge in eastern Michigan.

“The charges against [Snyder] were not properly brought and must be dismissed at this time,” Behm said.

The Michigan attorney general’s office has desperately tried to keep the cases alive but so far has lost at every turn. Prosecutors have argued that the indictments could simply be turned into common criminal complaints in district court, but Behm and another judge have rejected that approach.

Flint’s public water supply became tainted with lead after city managers appointed by Snyder began using the Flint River in 2014 to save money while a new pipeline to Lake Huron was built.

The water was not treated to reduce its corrosive qualities, causing lead to break off from old pipes and contaminate the system for more than a year. Lead is particularly dangerous to young children’s brains as it stunts their development, and residents of Flint repeatedly had their complaints rebuffed that the water had turned foul until action was finally taken.

The water switch has also been blamed for nine deaths linked to an outbreak of legionnaires’ disease.

Guardian staff and agencies

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