FLINT, MI — Flint water prosecutors have turned over less than a quarter of the documents that make up the criminal case against Rick Snyder and have yet to produce a list of witnesses against the former governor, his attorney says.
“This is a mess, your honor …,” Snyder attorney Brian Lennon told Genesee District Court Judge William H. Crawford on Tuesday, June 15. “The basic stuff that we asked for… we do not have — the list of lay witnesses and expert witnesses … All of the stuff that we are entitled to … we do not appear to have any of that … I don’t think the discovery bar has been advanced at all.”
Assistant Attorney General Bryant Osikowicz said water crisis prosecutors have given attorneys for Snyder 4 million of the 21 million documents that make up the willful neglect of duty case against him and said the process of reviewing the documents before they are released has been progressing but is time-consuming.
“Simply moving 21 million documents — it’s not like you just put them in a briefcase,” Osikowicz said during Tuesday’s court hearing. “It takes time. We have other defendants … If you have a problem with it, file a motion. We can address it in court.”
Snyder, 62, has been charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty for his role in the Flint water crisis, which occurred during his last term as governor. The charges are misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
The former governor and eight other current and former city and state officials were charged with water crisis crimes in January after indictments were issued by a one-man grand jury.
In the five months since, the cases have been on hold, partly because of a review of grand jury records and transcripts by Chief Genesee Circuit Judge Duncan Beagle.
Motion deadlines in the Snyder case were paused in March, pending the results of a preliminary appeal of Crawford’s decision to continue the case in Genesee County rather than Ingham County.
Snyder’s attorneys contend any case against their client should be brought in Ingham County because that’s where the former governor was as the water crisis unfolded.
Despite the ordered stay, Crawford has said attorneys involved in the case should continue to engage in discovery and cooperate on as many issues as possible.
On Tuesday, Crawford said he would like to see clearer progress in the case and will consider a modification of the pause he ordered in the case.
“I would like to see some movement, however small it is,” the judge said. “I will allow a motion to modify the stay. I will consider ruling on that … If the motion is focused on moving things forward in compliance with standard procedures and court rules I’m going to take a strong look at it.”