Flint, MI– Genesee County District Court Judge William Crawford II has decided not to dismiss the case against Former Gov. Rick Snyder for improper venue, as Snyder’s legal team argued he should. 

On Jan. 13, Snyder was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty for his involvement in the Flint water crisis. The counts are misdemeanors, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Two weeks later, Snyder’s attorney, Brian Lennon, made a motion for the judge to “quash,” or dismiss, the case for being filed in the “improper venue.” Lennon argued that the charges should be made in Lansing, where Snyder’s office was, rather than in Flint. 

Last week Lennon argued in court that “venue is where the crime occurred and not where the effects of the crime are felt.” He cited Michigan v. McBurrows, a case in which the judge ruled, that “A criminal trial should be by a jury of the county or city where the offense was
committed.”

Assistant Attorney General Bryant Osikowicz argued that with cases where the crime is based on a failure to act, “venue is generally appropriate where the action should have been taken,” which would be in Flint. 

On March 18, Crawford went through the arguments of both the prosecution and the defense, explaining his reasoning for denying Lennon’s motion to dismiss the case. 

He said the indictment lists Genesee County as the place of offense, and reasons that if it was believed that crimes were committed in other counties, those counties would have been listed as well. 

Crawford also pointed out that the defense’s argument failed to consider the “unique development” of emergency managers in Flint during the water crisis. 

“Part of the defendant’s argument is that the departments and department heads that Governor Snyder allegedly would have failed to supervise are all located in Lansing,” he said. “Yet, no mention…of the somewhat new and unique development or the emergency manager or managers in Flint.”

Crawford said that evidence may show that Snyder’s alleged failure to act would be in the City of Flint, and that the prosecution has said they are prepared to prove the venue is correct in Genesee County. 

Lennon said he would be appealing the judge’s ruling not to dismiss the case.

Amy Diaz

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...