Panel sides with former Snyder chief of staff in appeal over Flint water crisis charge
A three-judge Court of Appeals panel sided with the former chief of staff for Gov. Rick Snyder Thursday, affirming a motion to dismiss a felony perjury charge against Jarrod Agen stemming from the Flint water crisis.
After the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in June that prosecutors erred in having a judge act as a "one-man grand jury" to indict the officials, cases against Agen and other former state officials were subsequently dismissed by a Genesee County circuit judge in October. State prosecutors appealed the cases, but have found mixed results from Court of Appeals panels, who have sided with defense lawyers to affirm in all but one of the cases they've ruled on so far.
Presiding Judge Colleen O'Brien issued a one-sentence order granting a motion to affirm the dismissal made by Agen's attorneys, writing "the questions to be reviewed are so unsubstantial as to need no argument or formal submission." Judges Mark Cavanagh and Kathleen Jansen made up the rest of the panel.
Agen was facing a single count of felony perjury, after prosecutors alleged he lied to investigators in 2017. A spokesperson for the prosecution team said they plan on appealing Agen's case to the Michigan Supreme Court.
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Where the Flint water crisis cases currently stand
Agen, who later worked on former Vice President Mike Pence's staff after Snyder left office, was one of seven officials who saw charges stemming from the Flint water crisis dismissed in October. Here are the others:
Former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Nick Lyon: Lyon was charged with nine counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of willful neglect of duty by a public official. A Court of Appeals panel upheld the dismissal of the charges against Lyon in December. State prosecutors say they will appeal Lyon's case to the Michigan Supreme Court.
Former MDHHS employee Nancy Peeler: Peeler was charged with two felony counts of misconduct in office and one misdemeanor count of willful neglect of duty. A Court of Appeals panel ruled in December that prosecutors could argue their appeal, although a hearing date for the appeal has not been set, per court records. Last week, Peeler's lawyer asked the panel to affirm the lower court's dismissal.
Former Michigan Chief Medical Executive Dr. Eden Wells: Wells was charged with nine counts of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of misconduct in office and one count of willful neglect of duty by a public official. An appeals panel upheld the dismissal of Wells' charges in January. State prosecutors say they will appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.
Former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley: Earley was charged with a felony count of misconduct in office. Alongside Wells, an appeals panel upheld the dismissal of the charge. State prosecutors plan on appealing to the Michigan Supreme Court.
Former Flint Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose: Ambrose was charged with four felony counts of misconduct in office. In January, his lawyer asked an appeals panel to uphold the dismissal of the charges against him.
Former Snyder aide Richard Baird: Baird was charged with four separate felony counts: one of perjury, one of misconduct in office, one of obstruction of justice and one of extortion. His attorney has also filed a motion asking an appeals panel to uphold dismissing the charges.
Snyder, who was governor in Michigan from 2011 to 2019, was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty by a public official. His charges were remanded for dismissal in December. Prosecutors appealed the dismissal in January. Snyder's attorney has filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, according to the court docket.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Flint water crisis: Panel sides with ex-Snyder chief of staff