Questions the AG’s Office Should Answer

Last week, Judge Elizabeth Kelly dismissed the felony charges against seven of the Flint Water defendants following a unanimous Michigan Supreme Court ruling earlier this summer that the indictments brought by the secretive one-person grand jury were unconstitutional.

After two failed prosecutions have now ended under the watch of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, this saga should be over. Instead, Nessel and her team have said they will continue fighting – less than a month from the November election, no less – despite having already wasted tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and racking up repeated losses in court.

Michigan media outlets who have been covering this story have done an excellent job asking tough questions of the AG’s office about their decision-making around these Flint Water prosecutions.

Here are a few additional questions we believe should be asked and answered before Nessel’s team is allowed to continue to cash a blank check in their attempt to criminally prosecute individuals they see as political opponents on the eve of another election:

  • Did AG Nessel review or approve the statement blaming the judicial process, maligning judges, and vowing to continue this political persecution before it was released by her office?
  • The AG’s statement claimed “the courts have once again sided in favor of well-connected, wealthy individuals with political power and influence instead of the families and children of Flint.”  Is the Attorney General suggesting Judge Kelly or the Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court have been influenced in some way in these cases?  If so, what is her basis?
  • Is the Attorney General and her team suggesting that Judge Kelly or the Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court did not follow and properly apply the law?
  • In that same statement, the AG’s office claimed “these defendants have spared no expense to ensure that these cases were disposed of by judges based upon anything except the merits of the cases.”  What about the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars spent by the AG’s office. Are they willing to take responsibility for the cases being dismissed on procedural grounds because of continuous missteps by AG Nessel’s team? 
  • Regarding the defendants sparing no expense, is the Attorney General claiming that had the AG’s office spent even more taxpayer money on these cases, there would have been a different outcome? How is that possible since the AG’s losses are consistently the result of bungling the handling of evidence and other procedural missteps?
  • Exactly how much money has the Flint Water Prosecution Team, the AG’s Office, and Wayne County Prosecutor Worthy’s Office spent on the Flint Water-related prosecutions? (In July 2022, Beth LeBlanc at the Detroit News reported the AG’s office had spent nearly $16 million.) If the AG’s office plans to continue with the prosecutions, how much more money can the taxpayers expect to be spent?
  • In the AG’s statement, they claimed to “longed for the day when we would present the evidence against the defendants to a jury.” However, the Attorney General dismissed the previous charges filed under AG Bill Schuette and, to date, some defendants say they have yet to receive any evidence and don’t even know exactly why they have been charged.
  • You said it would cost tens of millions of dollars and take many months to deploy a taint team.  Did the AG’s office incorporate these cost estimates into its budget for 2022-2023?  Did the Flint Water Prosecution Team request these funds?  If the prosecution continues, how do you expect to pay for the taint team and comply with Judge Kelly’s order that one must be used?