Ex-health director Lyon gets emergency Supreme Court hearing on Flint case

Via Peters

A former state health director is getting an emergency hearing before the Michigan Supreme Court to decide whether a one-judge grand jury violated the Constitution and due process in approving criminal charges related to the Flint water crisis. 

Former Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon faces nine counts of involuntary manslaughter tied to 2014-15 deaths from a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in the Flint area that some experts have tied to the city’s lead-contaminated water. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of willful neglect of duty.

Each of Lyon’s manslaughter charges carries a maximum penalty of 15 years and/or $7,500 fine. Lyon was originally charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter under the special prosecutor appointed by Republican then-Attorney General Bill Schuette, but Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office dropped the charges in June 2019 as it rebooted the Flint probe.

Charges were reissued against Lyon in January 2021 after Genesee County Circuit Judge David Newblatt was appointed to be the so-called one-person grand jury who under state law acted as a judicial investigator.

Lyon is arguing that Michigan’s laws governing one-person grand juries violated “Michigan’s constitutional requirement of separation of powers,” didn’t give a judge the power to authorize criminal charges and violated due process, according to a Supreme Court order released Thursday.


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