Judge pauses discovery in seven criminal Flint water cases, hears motion to dismiss

FLINT, MI — The judge hearing felony Flint water criminal cases has stopped the process of discovery until she can rule on an amended protective order concerning the information being reviewed and released by prosecutors.

Genesee Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth A. Kelly heard arguments on the proposed amended protective order Tuesday, Aug. 10, taking that motion, another to dismiss the criminal cases against some of former Gov. Rick Snyder’s top aides, and another to compel the production of documents, under advisement.

Prosecutors from the Department of Attorney General have been criticized by attorneys for seven current and former state employees charged with Flint water felonies for failing to protect privileged and confidential materials and for not using a taint team to screen documents they seized to ensure that privileged materials did not come into their possession.

The seven individuals charged with felonies for their role in the water crisis are Snyder’s former senior advisor Richard Baird; former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon; former Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eden Wells; two former Flint emergency financial managers, Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose; former Snyder Chief of Staff and Communications Director Jarrod Agen; and Nancy Peeler, Director of the MDHHS Program for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting.

Snyder himself and former Flint Department of Public Works Director Howard Croft have been charged with misdemeanors in relation to the water crisis and were not a part of Tuesday’s hearing.

Kelly, who won election to the bench in November 2018, was assigned the most serious cases tied to the water crisis after secret grand jury indictments were revealed in January.

The indictments were issued by Genesee Circuit Judge David J. Newblatt, who served as the one-judge grand jury and heard testimony throughout 2020. State law requires grand jury indictments in felony matters to remain sealed and away from public view until the suspect’s arrest.

Attorneys for the seven accused in Circuit Court argued Tuesday that the law providing for the use of a single grand juror was misused and doesn’t give the grand juror the authority to charge their clients — only to compel witnesses to appear and testify.

Read more on MLive:

Former Gov. Snyder, 8 others criminally charged, accused of trampling trust of Flint people

Judge Elizabeth Kelly to preside over the most serious Flint water cases

Secret grand jury helped prosecutors beat statute of limitations deadline in Flint water case

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