Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s legal team signaled an aggressive defense Tuesday, arguing misdemeanor Flint water crisis charges issued last week should be immediately dismissed on the grounds they were filed in the wrong venue.
In a pretrial hearing in Genesee County, Snyder attorney Brian Lennon argued the former governor should not be tried in 67th District Court because he worked in Lansing — and the attorney promised motions requesting dismissal and access to secret evidence presented to a one-judge grand jury.
“The indictment is fatally flawed because it’s charged Gov. Snyder with crimes that allegedly occurred in Genesee County,” Lennon told Judge William H. Crawford II. “At all times through the indictment, Gov. Sndyer was in his office in the Romney Building in downtown Lansing.”
Lennon called the accusations against Snyder “false” and questioned whether prosecutors had access to communications that should have been shielded by attorney-client privilege.
Lennon first raised those and other concerns in a Monday night email to Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud, who last week announced willful neglect of duty charges against Sndyer, along with other felony and misdemeanor indictments against eight other state and local officials.
State prosecutors signaled they were not prepared to respond to Lennon immediately because the defense had not yet filed the promised motions.
“We don’t intend to litigate this by email and informal discussion, but rather as we would any criminal case,” said special assistant attorney general Molly Kettler. “We would like to have motions filed.”
Crawford, saying he’d like to “keep this case on the normal track” as much as possible, asked prosecutors and defense attorneys to discuss the motions and evidence requests in a private break-out room before returning in virtual court for additional public discussion later Tuesday.
“I don’t know how long this case might take, but in August or September or this time next year, somebody might look back and say, ‘Whoa… we should have done more,’” Crawford said. — Jonathan Oosting