ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and several other officials must testify in a civil trial involving engineering firms being sued over liability for lead-contaminated water connected to the Flint water crisis, a judge ruled Monday. [Source: PBS]
U.S. District Judge Judith Levy denied motions by Snyder, his former advisor, two former state-appointed emergency managers and an ex-Flint city official to quash subpoenas compelling them to testify.
Snyder, a Republican, faces misdemeanor charges in the water crisis. His attorney has said Snyder would invoke his right to remain silent if called as a witness in the ongoing civil trial in federal court in Ann Arbor. The Associated Press left a voicemail Monday seeking comment from Snyder’s attorney, Brian Lennon.
Attorneys for four Flint children claim Veolia North America and Lockwood, Andrews & Newman were negligent in not doing more to get the city to properly treat water that was being pulled from the Flint River in 2014-15. Corrosive water caused lead to leach from service lines serving homes, a disastrous result in the majority Black community.
They were not part of a $626 million settlement between Flint residents and the state of Michigan, the city and two other parties.
Snyder and the other officials already have given detailed deposition testimony — on-the-record interviews — with lawyers in the lawsuit without appealing “to their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination,” Levy wrote in her opinion.
“Each … voluntarily testified during the deposition phase of this case, and now wishes to invoke the privilege against self-incrimination on the same subject matter,” Levy continued. “They cannot do so.”
A hearing will be held to determine how the court will address specific arguments during the trial where their answers could expose them to risk of self-incrimination. There is no safe level of lead. It can harm a child’s brain development and cause attention and behavior problems.