May 9, 2024 - News

Lawsuit challenges Flint water prosecution

The Flint Water Plant in 2020.

The Flint Water Plant tower in 2020. Photo: Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rich Baird, who was prosecuted for his role in the Flint water crisis, is trying to clear his name through a new lawsuit against his former prosecutors.

The big picture: Baird's counterattack highlights the state's failures to hold public officials accountable for the contamination of Flint's drinking water.

  • The 10th anniversary of the city's ill-fated switch to the Flint River as its drinking water source was last month.

Flashback: Prosecutors had accused Baird — who helped lead the state's Flint response — in 2021 of perjury, threatening or intimidating scientists who studied lead pipe corrosion, and other charges.

  • But charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder, Baird and others were effectively wiped out by a state Supreme Court decision last year.

State of play: Baird filed his own federal lawsuit Monday.

  • He alleges the state violated his due process rights by using a one-person grand jury to charge him.
  • Baird says he wasn't able to mount a proper defense because exculpatory evidence and other information about his case was kept secret.
  • He is seeking relief including $800,000 in attorney fees and punitive and reputational damages.

What they're saying: The lawsuit criticizes the Flint prosecution team's refusal to correct alleged flaws in their case, despite multiple unfavorable rulings from judges.

  • "They wanted their pound of flesh, even if it meant running roughshod over the United States Constitution," the lawsuit reads.

The other side: Attorney General Dana Nessel's office declined to comment, because it has not properly reviewed the suit.

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