Ex-Michigan chief of health lawyers urge court to halt efforts to revive Flint water charges

Michigan's former health chief wants courts to stop attempting to revive charges relating to the Flint water crisis. Efforts to hold people criminally responsible have lasted for years.

Lawyers representing Michigan’s former Health Director are asking an appeals court for swift action to stop the revival of criminal charges in connection to the Flint water crisis from 2014-15.

Nick Lyon’s defense team filed the plea this week as a response to a promise by prosecutors to save indictments declared invalid by the Michigan Supreme Court. This is the latest in a long legal battle.

In June, the unanimous Supreme Court decision against the attorney general was reversed. A Genesee County judge dismissed Lyon’s charges and six others. Prosecutors are refusing to relent.


They claim that the indictments are a rare tool in state court and can be instantly turned into traditional criminal charges. This argument is a losing one. They indicated that they will appeal Judge Elizabeth Kelly’s Oct. 4 ruling.

The Michigan Supreme Court already decided the issue both explicitly and implicitly in the order to which the prosecution is now appealing. “The indictment is null and must be dropped,” Lyon’s lawyers, Chip Chamberlain, and Britt Cobb told the appeals court.

They wrote, “There are no remaining charges to remand.”

On October 22, 2020, the Flint River passes through Flint, Michigan. The former Michigan health chief is asking the courts to stop attempts to revive criminal charges related to the Flint water crisis. (ANDREPAIN/AFP via Getty Images).

In 2014, Flint switched its water source from the state to the Flint River. However, the water was not treated to lessen the devastating effects on the pipes. The result was that the system became lead-contaminated for 18 months.


Lyon was not involved in the water switch. However, the outbreak of Legionnaires disease was blamed on the river water. This is usually caused by bacteria spreading through cooling system.

Lyon and Eden Wells, the former chief medical officer, were both charged with involuntary murder in nine deaths. They were charged with failing to warn Flint about the outbreak in a timely manner.

Former Governor Rick Snyder was indicted for two misdemeanors related to his handling of the Water Crisis. He is appealing against his indictment, citing the summer Supreme Court Decision. This request is currently pending with another Genesee County judge.

The effort to make Flint’s water problems criminally liable has been going on for years. It has not succeeded. Seven defendants pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, which were later removed from their records.

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Lyon hopes that the appeals court will soon act if it needs additional arguments in Lyon’s case.

His attorneys wrote that Director Lyon is now in his seventh year dealing with sensational and widely publicized allegations. They have been dismissed twice. He said that justice has not been swift.

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