A judge has denied former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s request to dismiss all charges stemming from his role in the Flint water crisis. Snyder is charged with failing to declare an emergency when the water poisoning began in April 2014. According to the Associated Press, the former Republican governor’s legal team argued that all charges should be dismissed because the grand jury indictment was not filed in the correct county.
Snyder worked in Ingham County during his stint as Michigan’s governor, but the grand jury indictment was filed in Genesee County. Judge William Crawford II on Thursday fired back, saying this technicality was not grounds for dismissal and prosecutors are granted flexibility when determining where to file a case. “The state Legislature does not want strict adherence to territorial boundaries applied to nebulous concepts of venue,” Crawford said.
He added that dropping all charges based on these grounds could “impede justice.” Snyder’s legal team plans to appeal Judge Crawford’s ruling, which could be the first of many appeals to come in order to prevent Snyder from having to stand trial, the AP reports.
Snyder served as Michigan’s governor from 2011 to 2018. In 2014, Flint’s water system was switched to the Flint river, which was not properly treated. This led to corrosion and caused lead from pipes to seep into the water supply. For over a year and a half, residents of Flint, a predominantly Black Community, were not able to drink or bathe because they did not have clean running water. In some cases, residents died after being diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, which developed from bacteria in the water. In 2019, PBS reported a total of 12 people died from the disease and at least 90 people fell ill. Some residents in Flint are still without clean water seven years after the crisis began.
Once news of the crisis broke, activists around the country demanded that Snyder and other officials be held accountable for threatening the lives of Flint residents.
Snyder is just one of several Michigan officials who is facing charges over the Flint water poisoning. Other officials are facing charges that include involuntary manslaughter and willful neglect of duty.