Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Michigan state health director to stand trial for manslaughter in Flint Water Crisis deaths

I last mentioned the Flint Water Crisis in the context of "Flint" winning environmental feature film of the year at the 2018 EMA Awards.  While the dramatized movie about the Flint Water Crisis is winning awards and being nominated for an Emmy Award as Outstanding Made for Television Movie, the real story continues to unfold.*

Yesterday, WXYZ reported MI health chief Nick Lyon heading to trial on manslaughter charges in Flint water crisis case.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon will stand trial in a case tied to the Flint Water Crisis. A judge bound Lyon over on two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of misconduct in office. Judge David Goggins found probable cause that Lyon failed to perform his duties to protect the public and that he failed to notify the public in a timely basis.
This case is not about lead poisoning of Flint's water supply.  Instead, it's about the mishandling and coverup of an outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease in Flint that happened concurrently with the lead contamination.  Just the same, it's related.

I'm not optimistic about the trial happening soon, as pretrial hearings have been going on for a year.  In addition, as seen and heard in the WXYZ report, the defense plans on appealing.  MLive has the full statement from Lyons' attorney in Defense says court will “reverse decision so fast, it will make your head spin” in Flint water ma[nslaughter case].

Defense attorney John Bursch, who represents Nick Lyon, speaks after Genesee District Judge David J. Goggins bound Lyon’s case over to Genesee Circuit Court for trial on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, on two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of two men and one count of misconduct in office. Lyon, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, also faces one misdemeanor count of willful neglect of duty.
This isn't stopping the prosecution one bit.  Despite the title of Nick Lyon's Attorneys Expected To Appeal Judge from Fox 47, the Attorney General's spokeswoman claimed victory.

An attorney for Michigan's top health director says he will appeal a judge's decision that sends Nick Lyon to trial for charges connected to the Flint water crisis.
I expected something like the spokeswoman's statement, not just because it's what prosecutors do, but because Attorney General Schuette has been using this case to distinguish himself from Lieutenant Governor Calley to earn the Republican nomination for Governor.  He can point to this as a reason to vote for him.

Despite the PR boost for Schuette, I'll be sure to follow the case, whether a trial happens or not.

*I still plan on writing an entry about "Flint" and the other nominees for Outstanding Made for Television Movie next week.  Stay tuned.

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