News Release

Michigan Supreme Court Uses “Star Chamber” to Kill Flint Water Charges Against Officials

Flint Water Crisis is ongoing | I was back in Flint today an… | Flickr

AP reports in “Court kills Flint water charges against ex-governor, others” that: “The Michigan Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder and others in the Flint water scandal, saying a judge sitting as a one-person grand jury had no power to issue indictments under rarely used state laws.

“It’s an astonishing defeat for Attorney General Dana Nessel, who took office in 2019, got rid of a special prosecutor and put together a new team to investigate whether crimes were committed when lead contaminated Flint’s water system in 2014-15.“State laws ‘authorize a judge to investigate, subpoena witnesses, and issue arrest warrants’ as a grand juror, the Supreme Court said.“‘But they do not authorize the judge to issue indictments,’ the court said in a 6-0 opinion written by Chief Justice Bridget McCormack.“She called it a ‘Star Chamber comeback,’ a pejorative reference to an oppressive, closed-door style of justice in England in the 17th century.”
NAYYIRAH SHARIFF, nayyirah.shariff@gmail.com, @FlintRising

Shariff is with Flint Rising, which just released a statement: “We at Flint Rising are disgusted with the Michigan Supreme Court ruling that tosses out the indictments of former Governor Rick Synder, Nick Lyon, Richard Baird, Dr. Eden Wells, Darnell Earley, Gerald Ambrose, Jarrod Agen, Howard Croft and Nancy Peeler, the state and local officials responsible for the Flint water crisis. This leaves no one criminally responsible for poisoning 100,000 people in one of the largest public health disasters in this nation’s history.

“It has been 2,986 days since the start of the Flint water crisis. Throughout the years, we’ve sent buses of Flint residents to our state and nation’s capital, shared our stories, marched in the streets, and fought for reparations for our community. Before Flint, it wasn’t common knowledge that drinking water was a source for lead exposure. Our narratives and organizing drove revisions to [the] Lead and Copper Rule at the state and federal level. We were successful in leveraging our advocacy into making lead service line replacement a reality for communities across the country through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“Yet no one has been held accountable. We thought that the pain our families faced and the trauma we shared would lead to accountability at the end of this horrendous journey. We held onto the elusive hope that someone would be held criminally responsible. This is the second time that the promise of accountability has been snatched away from poisoned Flint residents. It has become increasingly clear that the judicial system is not a viable option for a poor majority Black community facing injustice.” See full statement.