Judge to decide if head of health dept will go to trial for Flint water disaster

- A judge is hearing key arguments in the most significant criminal case related to Flint's lead-contaminated water.

The head of Michigan's health department, Nick Lyon, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and other crimes. He's accused of not timely alerting the public about a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in the Flint area in 2014 and 2015.

Some experts have tied the outbreak to Flint's poorly treated water. Legionella bacteria can emerge through misting and cooling systems.  

Judge David Goggins must decide whether there's enough evidence to send Lyon to trial. He's hearing arguments Wednesday and July 25.

Special prosecutor Todd Flood says Lyon showed "willful disregard" for Flint-area residents. But Lyon's attorneys have questioned the causes of death of two people cited by Flood.

John Bursch says there's "not even close to enough evidence" to put Lyon on trial.

Florlissa Stebbins is one of the victims in the Flint water crisis. She says she's been suffering for years and made her way to Ann Arbor, to find out if a judge would throw her case out of court.  

"Four years has been way too long.  If it was done anywhere else in the state of Michigan, this would've been taken care of years ago," Stebbins said.

Attorney Michael Pitt represents the class of about 25,000 victims in Flint. He argues that the government discriminated against the Flint victims because of their race.

"There is a very strong racial component to this case," Pitt said. "If you don't believe me, read the report from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights which said, conclusively, that race was a factor in the decisions that were made in this disaster."

Attorney Todd Perkins, who is defending former emergency manager Darnell Early, disagrees.

"That's up to the judge to decide," he said.

Well ultimately it will be up to the judge to decide.  But it seems to be an irony going on here. Some of the defendants in this civil case are being represented by state lawyers- the same state lawyers bringing criminal charges against these defendants. 

There are other arguments in this complicated hearing. I know you told me that it may take a judge a couple of months before she issues a written opinion. 

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