(The Hill) — Charges against former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) over the Flint water crisis have been dropped this week.
Snyder had been charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty in connection with a water supply switch that left Flint residents exposed to lead through their drinking water.
The dismissal of charges against him came after the state’s Supreme Court took issue with the indictment procedure used in the case.
The charges against the seven other people, including former state and local officials, charged in connection with the Flint issue were also dropped following the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“The charges against [Snyder] were not properly brought and must be dismissed at this time,” Genesee County Judge F. Kay Behm wrote in an order dismissing charges, photos of which were obtained by The Hill.
The ruling was dated Wednesday, though news reports began to emerge Friday about the decision.
Prosecutors said in a written statement that they would appeal the decision. They also noted that the decision was based on procedural issues rather than the strength of the underlying case.
“This decision is not surprising, and the prosecution will appeal. We anticipated that this ruling would be similar to other outcomes that only considered process. Our team has been preparing for this and looks forward to addressing these issues in court,” said the statement from the prosecution team.
“We are confident that the evidence clearly supports the criminal charges against Rick Snyder, and we will not stop until we have exhausted all possible legal options to secure justice for the people of Flint,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Snyder’s lawyer expressed approval of the court’s decision, and accused prosecutors of “political persecution.”
“After years of desperate attempts at political persecution veiled in amateurish and unethical prosecutorial efforts, we’re pleased to see that Judge Behm followed the unanimous Michigan Supreme Court and her former Circuit Court colleague by dismissing this fatally flawed case against Governor Rick Snyder,” attorney Brian Lennon said a written statement.
“The prosecution team’s statement saying it will appeal this ruling is further proof that they intend to continue their efforts to weaponize the court system against their political enemies,” he added.
Flint’s drinking water was contaminated after the source of their water supply was shifted from Lake Huron to the Flint River in 2014. The water wasn’t adequately treated and this caused lead from pipes to leach into the city’s drinking water.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this exposed approximately 99,000 residents to lead.
Lead exposure can cause damage to the brain and nervous system. It is particularly harmful to children.
The water source switch has also been linked to a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed 12 people.
The dismissal of charges against Snyder does not impact a separate civil court decision that awarded more than $600 million to the city’s residents.