The Michigan Supreme Court has declined to revive cases against seven officials in connection with the Flint Water crisis, marking what could be the end of the road in a long legal battle.
The state’s high court, in orders issued Wednesday, denied an appeal of a lower court’s decision to dismiss the charges, saying it was “not persuaded that the question presented should be reviewed by this Court.”
In doing so, it is terminating cases against top officials, including those who served as the state’s health director and chief medical executive.
Misdemeanor charges against former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) were also dismissed last year, but an appeal is still pending.
Flint’s drinking water was contaminated after the source of its water supply was shifted 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.
This exposed about 99,000 residents to lead, which can damage the brain and nervous system and is particularly harmful to children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
The criminal cases are separate from civil lawsuits that stemmed from the crisis. Residents were awarded a total of $626 million as a result of those lawsuits.
The felony charges in question were dismissed after the Michigan Supreme Court said a one-man grand jury that indicted the officials did not have the authority to do so.
Prosecutors said in a written statement that they were “deeply disappointed in the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling.”
“The people of Flint continue to suffer from the categorical failure of certain public officials, who trampled on their trust and evaded accountability for far too long,” they added.
They also said that while evidence supporting the charges is under seal, they would explore legal options for sharing it with the public.