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Judge Tosses Indictments Of Seven In Flint Water Pollution Case

A Michigan judge dismissed indictments of seven former state officials over their handling of the Flint water crisis. Genesee Circuit Judge Elizabeth Kelly said the indictments were invalid. The decision followed an earlier opinion from the state Supreme Court on concerns over how the indictments were handled, reports the Wall Street Journal. “If the People seek future charges against Defendants,” Kelly wrote, “they must follow one of the proper charging procedures” set by the state Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court in June canceled the indictments , citing the prosecution’s use of a “one-man grand jury” statute, which doesn’t include the usual grand jury process and can allow a judge to act alone to issue indictments. In this case, a different judge considered the evidence and issued the indictments. The Supreme Court also found that the defendants had the right to a preliminary examination. The circuit court’s new ruling eliminated the criminal charges against seven former officials, including Nicolas Lyon, former director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services; and Eden Wells, the department's former chief medical executive. The prosecution team, including Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and state Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud, said it would follow its pledge to “exhaust all available legal options.” “The team will "continue its pursuit of justice for Flint,” it said. The Flint water crisis is one of the worst lead contaminations of a municipal water system in U.S. history. In 2014, state officials switched the water source for the city of nearly 100,000 as a cost-saving measure and failed to treat the water properly, causing old pipes to leak lead into the tap water. Tests later revealed elevated levels of lead in many children. The problem affected some of the city's poorest neighborhoods, due to the close proximity of the highest lead concentration. The Environmental Protection Agency said weak oversight at the state, local and federal levels played a role in the slow response to the crisis. The state of Michigan said in 2020 it would pay more than $600 millionto settle civil claims brought by thousands of residents.


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