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Judge delays decision on dismissing charges against former state health department director

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

A judge is delaying a decision on whether todismiss criminal chargesagainst Michigan’s former state health department director.

Former Department of Health and Human Services director Nick Lyon has spent the past few years under investigation and indictment in connection with the Flint water crisis. The charges include involuntary manslaughter linked to a Legionnaires Disease outbreak in Genesee County during the Flint water crisis.

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Solicitor General Fadwa Hamoud (center) confers with her team at a court hearing in Flint

A lower court bound Lyon over for trial on the charges last year. But the defense filed a motionasking 7th Circuit Court judge Joseph Farah to dismiss criminal charges against Lyon.  

However, before the judge could rule on the defense motion, Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud asked for a delay.   

Attorney General Dana Nessel appointed Hammoud to take over the Flint water criminal prosecutions earlier this year. Since she’s been in charge, the criminal cases have been in limbo as new attorneys are brought in and former special counsel Todd Flood was let go.

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Judge Joseph Farah is delaying his decision on a defense motion to squash a lower court's decision to bind former MDHHS director Nick Lyon to trial on involuntary manslaughter and other charges

In court on Friday, Hammoud argued a six-month delay is needed so her team can examine 23 boxes of potential evidence that were discovered in February.  She admits their review so far hasn’t turned up any evidence connected to Lyon. 

“We are simply asking to hit a pause button,” Hammoud told the judge.

Judge Farah agreed to a delay. But not for six months.  He gave prosecutors only until June 14, at which time he plans to rule on the defense motion. 

Defense attorney Chris Chamberlain suggests the new prosecutors are just stalling.

“They’re simply saying ‘give me time to figure out what my case is about," Chamberlain argued before the court on Friday, “I’m sorry there’s been a personnel change, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of Mr. Lyon.”

While Lyon will have to wait another month to learn whether the judge will dismiss the felony counts against him, he won’t have to wait as long to hear the judge’s decision on a misdemeanor count.

Judge Farah plied both sides for a reason why he should delay his decision on the misdemeanor “willful neglect” charge. But after failing to be convinced he should wait, Farah said he will issue that separate ruling this 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.
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