March 28, 2022
March 28, 2022
Lansing, Mich., March 28, 2022 – On Thursday, March 24, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled against Attorney General Dana Nessel ordering that the state must use an independent “taint team” to review documents obtained by prosecutors that may be covered by attorney-client privilege in the ongoing Flint Water criminal case. The Detroit Free Press reports:
“An appeals court recently denied the Michigan Attorney General’s request to overturn a lower court’s decision tied to the Flint water crisis prosecution of the state’s former health department director.
It’s another blow to the state’s efforts to prosecute anyone in relation to Flint’s lead-poisoned water, and has the potential to delay criminal trials for years while costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled against the attorney general on Thursday, declining to take up the office’s request to overturn a decision from the 7th Circuit Court in Flint directing the state to use a so-called “taint team” in the prosecution of former Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon.”
Attorney General Dana Nessel was made aware in emails from April 2021 that prosecutors had privileged documents. Despite these warnings, Nessel, Solicitor General Hammoud, and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy failed to take corrective action.
In November 2021, Genesee Circuit Judge Elizabeth A. Kelly ruled that the Michigan Attorney General’s team must use a taint team “to filter out attorney-client privileged documents before they are used in cases against nine individuals charged with crimes tied to the crisis,” MLive reported.
In a January 2022 filing, Nessel’s former business partner Chris Kessel, who was hired by the state for this case, argued it would take 100 lawyers nearly three years and $38 million to review the documents.
Despite being in office for over three years, Nessel recently told a local Democratic club that her reelection is the only way for the case to continue.
“Dana Nessel is deliberately stalling prosecution for political expediency. After staff warned Nessel that they were in possession of privileged documents in April 2021, no action was taken – even after the issues were raised in court,” said Eric Ventimiglia, Executive Director for Michigan Rising Action. Ventimiglia continued, “If Attorney General Nessel was truly focused on justice, she would have taken corrective action as soon as her staff realized they had privileged documents.”