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Former Flint emergency manager takes witness stand, but asserts right not to speak

Former Flint Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose (file photo)
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Former Flint Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose made a very brief appearance Tuesday at a civil trial related to the Flint water crisis.

The case involves damage claims against two engineering firms — Veolia North America and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam — filed on behalf of four Flint children exposed to Flint's lead tainted drinking water. The two firms were hired as consultants on Flint’s water system. Both companies deny any responsibility for the problems with the city's water.

Before the jury entered the federal courtroom in Ann Arbor, Gerald Ambrose was called to the witness stand. But his stay would be brief.

“I have determined I will continue to assert my right to not speak,” Ambrose told U.S. District Judge Judith Levy.

Ambrose, former Governor Rick Snyder, former Snyder aide Rich Baird, former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley and former Flint Public Works Director Howard Croft are fighting the judge’s ruling they must testify despite facing criminal charges related to the Flint water crisis.

Judge Levy says since they didn’t take the Fifth during pre-trial depositions they can’t invoke it now. If Ambrose and others try, they could face contempt of court.

The five potential witnesses have appealed to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court to review Levy’s ruling.

After Gerard Ambrose exited the courtroom Tuesday morning, the jury watched his video deposition, which was recorded in 2020. In the video, Ambrose reviewed his time as Flint’s emergency manager and answered questions about who may have seen lead testing results.

The jury is expected to spend a second full day listening to the Ambrose video deposition on Wednesday.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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