Originally published in AP on June 28, 2022.
DETROIT (AP) — A judge had no authority to issue indictments in the Flint water scandal, the Michigan Supreme Court said Tuesday, wiping out charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder, his health director and seven other people.
It’s an astonishing defeat for Attorney General Dana Nessel, who took office in 2019, got rid of a special prosecutor and put together a new team to investigate whether crimes were committed when lead contaminated Flint’s water system in 2014-15.
State laws “authorize a judge to investigate, subpoena witnesses, and issue arrest warrants” as a one-person grand jury, the Supreme Court said.
“But they do not authorize the judge to issue indictments,” the court said in a 6-0 opinion.
In a money-saving move, Flint managers appointed by Snyder switched the city’s water source to the Flint River. State regulators said the river water didn’t need to be treated to reduce its corrosive qualities. That was a ruinous decision: Lead from old pipes flowed through the system for 18 months in the majority-Black city.