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Flint water crisis criminal cases moving to the next legal rung

Sep 18, 2017

The stage is set for the next step in the Flint water crisis criminal probe.

Today, a judge scheduled preliminary exams for five water crisis defendants for early January. That will give defense attorneys a little less than four months to wade through tens of thousands of pages of evidence recently turned over by prosecutors.

The five defendants (Stephen Busch, Mike Prysby, Liane Shekter-Smith, Patrick Cook, and Adam Rosenthal) were working for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality at the time of the Flint water crisis. They face a variety of charges.

Other defendants have preliminary exams scheduled during the next several months. The first of those preliminary hearings is slated to begin later this week.

At a preliminary exam, a prosecutor has to prove a crime has been committed and that there is enough evidence against the defendant to take the case to trial.

On Thursday, a preliminary exam is scheduled for state health department director Nick Lyon, the highest-profile defendant charged in connection with the Flint water crisis. He is charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Special Counsel Todd Flood expects Lyon’s preliminary hearing may take a few days.

A former state epidemiologist Corinne Miller is expected to take the stand during that hearing. Miller pleaded ‘no contest’ to a charge involving the water crisis in exchange for her cooperation with prosecutors. 

Flood expects actual criminal trials will take place sometime next year.