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Federal judge denies former Gov. Rick Snyder's request to quash subpoena to testify in Flint water civil trial

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A federal judge Monday denied motions by former Gov. Rick Snyder and four others to quash subpoenas calling for them to testify in a civil trial tied to the Flint water crisis.

The civil trial involves claims by four individuals who were children at the time of water crisis. They were exposed to lead and other contaminants in their drinking water between 2014 and 2015. They are suing two engineering firms (Veolia North America (VNA) and Lockwood, Andrews and Newnam (LAN) which consulted on the city’s water system during the crisis.

Former Gov. Rick Snyder, along with former Emergency Managers Darnell Early and Gerald Ambrose, the governor’s former aide Rich Baird and former Flint city employee Howard Croft all asked for the court to quash their subpoenas to testify in the case.

All five are facing criminal charges in the water crisis. Snyder and Croft are facing misdemeanor charges. The others are charged with more serious felony counts.

In 2020, before they were charged criminally, Snyder and others took part in depositions in the civil case.

Earlier this month, their attorneys argued their clients should not be compelled to answer the same or addition questions in court. The lawyers argued otherwise their clients would be forced to invoke their Constitutional right against self-incrimination.

But Monday, U.S. District Judge Judith Levy denied their motions. In her written opinion, Levy wrote the former governor and the others “must take the stand and answer individualized questions in order to invoke (their) Fifth Amendment privilege.”

No word yet on whether Snyder or the others plan to appeal Judge Levy’s decision.

A different political figure is scheduled to testify in the civil trial Tuesday.

Dayne Walling was re-elected Flint’s mayor in 2011, just weeks before Snyder appointed an emergency financial manager to run the city. His tenure at city hall was dominated by state oversite.

During a 2016 congressional hearing into the Flint water crisis, Walling testified that state regulators provided him with “assurances” that Flint’s tap water met Safe Drinking Act standards and the “full risks were not shared.”

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