Flint Water Legal Costs Continue to Soar for Taxpayers

The soaring costs associated with efforts to prosecute former Gov. Rick Snyder were highlighted by two major news announcements associated with the proceedings in January.

The state’s Administrative Board has approved legal fees for Snyder to reach $2.5 million by January 2023. Additional legal expenses for other former state employees facing charges could bring that total cost to taxpayers to $5 million by the end of 2022.

Snyder has been charged with two misdemeanors carrying $1,000 fines each, with the presumption of no jail time or probation.

Despite the Administrative Board’s approval of new budget for the additional expenses, there is no end in sight for the proceedings against Snyder and the other defendants.

For example, defendants won a court order that requires the prosecution to set up a “taint team” – a group of independent lawyers – to review millions of government documents so that privileged communications between Snyder and other defendants and their lawyers are not compromised and read by the prosecution. This protection of attorney-client privileged communications is an essential right to a fair trial.

The state prosecution team is now seeking to appeal that decision to a higher court. In their filing Jan. 28 to the Michigan Court of Appeals, they wrote:

“This reality moves the burden imposed on a taint team from difficult to nearly impossible. Taking these factors into account, and extrapolating from the limited relevancy review conducted previously, the People’s e-discovery vendor estimates that such a review would require a team of 100 attorneys working for over 2 years at an estimated cost of $36,850,000.00.”

The defendants have not filed a response yet, but have argued that the lack of a “taint team” amounts to professional misconduct by members of the Attorney General’s office.

“We believe it’s time for the state to reconsider this unnecessary and expensive prosecution,” said Jason Brown, a spokesman for the Snyder legal team. “The costs are spiraling out of control and there is no end in sight to the proceedings.”

We will update this blog with new filings in the Court of Appeal case.