Rick Snyder’s legal team on Flint defense: ‘Neglecting a city is not a crime’

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Ny Magee
·3 min read
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‘We as a community deserve justice, not more insulting attempts to defend their actions.’

Attorneys representing former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder believe the charges against him in the Flint water crisis should be dismissed because “Neglecting a city is not a crime,” according to a court filing on Monday.

“Neglecting a city is not a crime — certainly not one with which Governor Snyder has been charged,” Snyder attorney Brian Lennon wrote in the filing, per Metro Times. “Nor did Governor Snyder have any duties ‘owed specifically to Flint.'”

Read More: Ex.-Michigan Gov. Snyder charged in Flint water crisis

theGRIO previously reported, Snyder was charged in January with two counts of willful neglect of duty stemming from an investigation of the Flint water crisis. The charges are misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Michigan Gov And Detroit Emergency City Manager Orr Discuss Bankruptcy Filing
(Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Snyder’s legal team said the indictment against him is “fatally flawed” because his “alleged crimes” occurred in Ingham County, “not in the city of Flint or anywhere else in Genesee County,” Lennon wrote.

He also shared the following statement with Metro Times: “It is clear the prosecution is desperate to keep this case in Genesee County. The State is now asking the Court to perform legal and logical gymnastics to cover for their fatal flaw of obtaining their charges in the wrong county. Rather than own up to their error and refile these two misdemeanors in Ingham County, they are doubling down by twisting facts, distorting case holdings, and ignoring Michigan Supreme Court precedent and longstanding grand jury practice.”

Flint was in chronic financial trouble in 2014 when a Snyder-appointed manager who was running the majority Black city carried out a money-saving decision to use the Flint River for water while a regional pipeline from Lake Huron was under construction. The corrosive water, however, wasn’t treated properly and released lead from old plumbing into homes in one of the worst manmade environmental disasters in U.S. history. Authorities counted at least 90 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County, including 12 deaths.

Prosecutors have said Snyder neglected the water problems in Flint. Eight others were also charged for their alleged part in the city’s water disaster.

Read More: Rick Snyder is re-instated as Defendant in Flint water Lawsuit

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley responded to the arguments made by Snyder’s attorneys in the filing ahead of a hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

In this March 21, 2016, file photo, the Flint Water Plant water tower is seen in Flint, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
In this March 21, 2016, file photo, the Flint Water Plant water tower is seen in Flint, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

“This criminal defense goes beyond implicit bias. Moreover, it is explicit bias when communities of color are neglected and they argue it is not a crime. What happened to the children, families, and residents of Flint was absolutely criminal. We as a community deserve justice, not more insulting attempts to defend their actions,” the mayor’s statement says.

Snyder is expected back in court on Feb. 23, where his legal team will ask a judge to dismiss the charges.

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