Defense attorney in Flint water case calls charges politically motivated

Flint resident Leeanne Walters was measured in her response to the criminal charges filed against former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and eight other officials for the Flint water crisis.

"I don't know how to feel about it at this point and it's just charges at this point," said Leeanne Walters. "And they've already been dropped once, so we have to see what the convictions are. That's going to be the real test of time here."

There are 42 counts between them and Snyder is charged with two misdemeanors. His right-hand man Rich Baird is facing several felonies as is former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley.

Attorney Randall Levine says investigators told Baird he was not a target in their probe back in 2017. Levine claims the charges are politically motivated.

"I have to say that my surmise, is these charges are nothing more than an attempt by some to gain some type of a political advantage to take advantage of the situation," said Levine, the defense attorney for Baird.

"I haven't seen in the many years that I've been with Mr. Earley, evidence that says he's committed a crime," Todd Perkins said.

Perkins is Earley's attorney and says initial charges against him were dismissed nearly two years ago. 

The water crisis began in 2014 after the city, under emergency management, switched its water source to the Flint River, resulting in dangerous amounts of lead in the city's water supply.

The crisis is linked to at least 12 deaths, to roughly 80 people contracting Legionnaires Disease and to a spike in lead levels in the blood of many Flint children. 

Attorney Randall Levine is representing former state official Rich Baird in the Flint water case.

"This is a very sad tale for Michigan," said Larry Dubin. "This is a disaster that occurred and however you view it, however the legal issues are, it was man-made."

Dubin is professor emeritus of law at U of D Mercy.

"Usually when you're dealing with this kind of grand jury, you find that there are a lot of plea agreements that emerge because it's not necessarily that you want to see people go to prison, it's that you want accountability," he said.

"Justice for me would be getting the laws changed like we were promised," Walters said. "The EPA being held accountable and added to this list, and seeing where it goes from there."

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy who was on the prosecution team for the investigation said this case has nothing to do with partisanship in response to claims the charges are politically motivated. She said it has everything to do with "human decency and holding people accountable for what happened."