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Former emergency manager takes the 'Fifth' in Flint water crisis bellwether civil trial

Darnell Earley, former Flint emergency manager (file photo)
steve carmody
Michigan Radio
Darnell Earley, former Flint emergency manager (file photo)

Former Flint emergency manager Darnel Earley invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a brief court appearance in a federal courthouse in Ann Arbor Tuesday.

Earley was called as a witness in a civil trial connected to the Flint water crisis.

The trial concerns damage claims on behalf of four children suing two engineering firms hired as consultants on Flint’s water system. It’s referred to as a bellwether trial, since it may serve as a guide for other similar lawsuits.

Darnell Earley is just the latest witness in the case to take the “Fifth.” For example, former Governor Rick Snyder took the fifth last week.

Earley and Snyder are among five potential witnesses in the case who have been the focus of a criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis.

While several witnesses have refused to testify in person, the jury has seen them answer questions in pre-trial videotaped depositions. Earley’s deposition was shown to the jury last month.

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.