Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will face a criminal trial in the same community where his decisions allegedly contributed to the lead exposure of roughly 100,000 Flint residents, a state court judge ruled Thursday.
Judge William Crawford issued a ruling denying Snyder’s motion to dismiss the two misdemeanor criminal charges against him and efforts to get the case moved from Genesee County—where Flint is located— to Lansing, where the governor’s office is based.
Snyder (R) faces two counts of misdemeanor willful neglect of duty for his alleged role in the state-and-local officials’ decision to switch the city’s water source to the Flint River in 2014 to save money, exposing residents to lead in their drinking water.
“We stand by our claim that there is no legal basis for filing these charges in Genesee County, and we will be filing a timely appeal with the Circuit Court on our motion to dismiss the case,” Snyder’s legal team said in a statement.
Acts of Omission
They had argued that Snyder committed only acts of omission, that if punishable at all could only create criminal liability where the governor’s office was located.
Crawford acknowledged that proper venue for the trial is ambiguous, and could create jury confusion. But he pointed to allegations that Snyder failed to properly supervise Flint’s emergency manager and other personnel on the ground responding to the crisis as a reason to side with the state’s choice of location.
“The defense has said that ‘neglecting a city is not a crime,’” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement. “On behalf of the citizens of Flint, we vehemently disagree with the notion that public officials are entitled to show little regard for the health and safety of the people they are elected to serve.”
Worthy and Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud are the lead prosecutors in the case.
Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the decision.
The case is Michigan v. Snyder, Mich. Dist. Ct., No. 21G-0046-SM, motion to dismiss denied 3/18/21.