Former Gov. Snyder, ex-health director want evidence hearing in Flint water cases
FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Two former top state officials charged after the second Flint water crisis criminal investigation are raising concerns with the evidence used against them.
Former Gov. Rick Snyder and former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon filed separate documents in Genesee County courts this week asking for hearings on whether evidence prosecutors used against them should be thrown out.
Snyder is facing two counts of misdemeanor misconduct in office for allegedly not supervising his staff adequately and allegedly failing to declare a State of Emergency as required of the governor.
Lyon is charged with nine counts of involuntary manslaughter related to the deaths of John Snyder, Debra Kidd, Brian McHugh, DuWayne Nelson, Nelda Hunt, Peter Derscha, Thomas Mulcahy, Arthur Percy and Patricia Schaffer in July and August 2015 from Legionnaires’ disease.
Lyon also is facing a charge of willful neglect of duty for allegedly failing to protect the health and welfare of Flint residents.
Both officials claim that investigators and prosecutors from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office were privy to confidential information, including material blocked by attorney-client privilege and documents from Detroit’s bankruptcy case.
Lyon says some of the documents released include confidential communication between he and his legal counsel from the first Flint water criminal investigation.
A separate filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeks sanctions against Flint water prosecutors for disclosing documents from the Detroit proceedings that were supposed to remain confidential.
Snyder’s legal team alleges that “this politically motivated prosecution team” committed “outrageous misconduct violations” by disclosing confidential information to the public and allowing prosecutors who actively were working on the case to view documents that should have been secret.
Both Snyder’s and Lyon’s legal teams say they warned prosecutors in advance that search warrants issued in 2019 for the second Flint water investigation likely would turn up privileged information that should not be made public.
Attorney Brian Lennon, who is representing Snyder, said prosecutors failed to appoint a filter team to stop confidential and secret information from reaching personnel working on the criminal cases.
“The prosecution’s misconduct was cavalier and reckless, and should be viewed as a threat not only for the former governor’s due process rights, but for every state employee and resident in the state of Michigan who could be investigated for any reason and subjected to these unlawful tactics,” says a statement from Snyder’s legal team.
Snyder and Lyon both are asking judges to hold hearings about the alleged problems with the release of evidence and to impose limits on what should be allowed. Snyder wants misconduct sanctions and reimbursement of costs related to the release of unapproved documents.
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