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Judge will review discovery process in Flint water crisis criminal cases

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

A court hearing Monday will look at the process of reviewing grand jury documents in the Flint Water Crisis investigation.

Defense attorneysaccuse prosecutors of “stonewalling.”

In January, nine government officials including former Gov. Rick Snyder, were charged with crimes ranging from willful neglect of duty to involuntary manslaughter. The criminal counts were handed down by a one-man grand jury.   

Circuit Court Judge Duncan Beagle has been overseeing the process of reviewing evidence presented to the one-man grand jury in the Flint water crisis criminal investigation. 

By law, the evidence must be turned over to defense attorneys.

But defense attorneys complain the discovery process is taking too long and what has been shared so far hasn’t been done correctly.

Attorney Jerold Lax represents Michigan’s former Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells. At a hearing before a different judge last week, Lax laid out his complaint about how the discovery process has been handled so far.  

“We’ve been given a very weighty haystack and told there is a needle in there somewhere. Figure it out,” said Lax.

To date, defense attorneys have received more than three million documents and witness lists containing more than a hundred names. 

Assistant Attorney General Chris Kessel defended the state’s process of sharing grand jury evidence with the defense during the same court hearing last Thursday.

“There are 21 million approximately potential documents that need to be transferred, and these take a lot of time,” Kessel told the judge, “I assure the court we are  moving as quickly as we can.”

It will likely take months for the review process to be completed.

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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