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As criminal process unfolds, what's next for eight state employees charged in Flint water crisis?

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Lawyers for some of the defandants and prosecutor Todd Flood appear before Judge Jennifer Manley.

There was a probable cause hearing today for the eight defendants charged by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette in the Flint water disaster. What does that mean, and how does today's hearing fit into the legal process?

Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning joined Stateside to provide some answers.

For starters, what is a probable cause conference?
"It's the first step after defendants have been charged," said Henning. "It's an opportunity for the government to say what it's going to do to establish probable cause that these defendants committed the crimes they're accused of. For the defendant[s], it's their first chance to really see the government unveil its case [and] how it plans to prosecute them, if the case gets to trial." 

At the end of July, the Attorney General filed criminal charges against six state employees -- three of them from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (Nancy Peeler, Corinne Miller and Robert Scott) and three more from the Department of Environmental Quality (Liane Shekter-Smith, Adam Rosenthal and Patrick Cook).

Back in April, Schuette announced felony charges against DEQ officials Stephen Busch and Mike Prysby, as well as Flint city employee Mike Glasgow, who pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor. Glasgow is currently cooperating with the investigation and other charges were dropped.

So that leaves us with eight defendants today.

Listen to the full interview to hear how the process works and what is expected to happen.

GUEST: Peter Henning is a law professor at Wayne State University.

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