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April 13, 2023
A Genesee County Circuit Court judge denied a motion to dismiss the 10 pending charges against Michigan’s former top public health official, which means the criminal case can continue toward trial in Flint.
In an order filed on Thursday, Judge Elizabeth Kelly ruled against Nick Lyon, the former director of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Kelly’s ruling said that the one-person grand jury that had been used to indict those charged with Flint water crisis crimes is allowed by the state’s law, does not violate the separation of powers doctrine, and additionally does not violate their due process rights.
The order also extends to three other officials who had joined in the motion to dismiss the charges: former Flint emergency manager Gerald Ambrose; Nancy Peeler, who worked for MDHHS during the water crisis; and Richard Baird, who worked under former Gov. Rick Snyder as his transformation manager.
Lyon, Ambrose, Peeler, and Baird were four of the nine officials who had been indicted by the grand jury but claimed that state law does not allow Circuit Judge David Newblatt, the single grand juror in the water cases, to charge them of crimes. They alleged he could only investigate the charges.
Lyon, 53-years-old, is facing nine counts of involuntary manslaughter, each of which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, as well as one count of willful neglect of duty.
The judge wrote that Lyon is attempting to “strike down Michigan’s one-person grand jury system through statutory interpretation and constitutional challenges. However, all of defendant’s arguments fail because [state laws] confer charging authority upon the one-person grand juror…, because the grand jury system does not violate the separation of powers doctrine, and … the one-person grand jury system does not violate due process.”
Other than Lyon, the felony Flint water defendants have also filed motions asking for their cases to be dismissed for various reasons as well.
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: FLINTBEAT.COM