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Flint water crisis prosecutions moving forward slowly

Sep 7, 2016

Court hearings into criminal charges in the Flint water crisis will drag on well into 2017.

Eight current and former state workers with the departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services face a variety of criminal charges related to Flint’s lead-tainted tap water. The defendants are accused of concealing and manipulating evidence, failing to take action to protect the safety of city drinking water, and neglect of duty.

Prosecutor Todd Flood (center) gestures during a court hearing in Flint today, surrounded by attorneys representing current and former state workers criminally charged in Flint's drinking water crisis
Credit Steve Carmody

But they won’t stand trial anytime soon. 

A judge has set the next round of court hearings in the case in January. Others will take place in March and April.

One holdup is a mountain of documents that defense attorneys still have to plow through.

“309,000 plus 200,000 is a lot of pieces of paper. And that’s what we’ve got to do is to take a look at it and see what it’s all about,” says attorney John Smietanka, who represents defendant Patrick Cook, who was responsible for compliance with lead and copper monitoring requirements for the state. 

Todd Flood leads the prosecution team. He says about 60% of the documents are made up of duplicates that need to be weeded out.

“If I have multiple copies and those multiple copies are of the same thing, it just weighs down the process,” says Flood.

Former Flint city employee Mike Glasgow is the only person criminally charged in the probe that is currently cooperating with prosecutors
Credit Steve Carmody

Another issue that must be resolved is if defense attorneys will have access to a state police probe of Flint’s water crisis.  

Back in May, local, state and federal prosecutors demanded the internal review at the Department of Environmental Quality be halted, out of concern it could negatively affect their criminal investigations.   

Still, defense attorneys want to see what the probe may have uncovered.

Prosecutor Todd Flood objects. He says some state workers were compelled to talk to the MSP investigators, which would taint the probe. 

It will be up to Judge Jennifer Manley to decide if the defense will get the information.

There is also the possibility that the special team set up to investigate the Flint water crisis may file additional criminal charges.

One Flint city worker is charged in connection with Flint’s lead tainted drinking water.

Prosecutor Todd Flood told the judge today that former city utilities director Mike Glasgow continues to cooperate with prosecutors. 

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