Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette [official website] on Tuesday announced criminal charges [press release] against four former state officials in connection with the Flint water crisis. Two former emergency managers, Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose, were charged with four felonies [NYT report]—false pretenses, conspiracy to commit false pretenses, misconduct in office, and willful neglect of duty—and face maximum sentences of 46 years in prison [TIME report]. Additionally, Flint’s former public works director Howard Croft and former utilities director Daugherty Johnson were charged with false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses, facing up to 40 years in prison. Ambrose, Croft and Johnson pleaded not guilty, but Earley did not appear in court.
Multiple lawsuits have occurred as a result of the Flint water crisis. This month the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] affirmed a lower court decision requiring the state of Michigan to provide bottled water [JURIST report] to the citizens of Flint. Last month the Sixth Circuit affirmed [JURIST report] a lower court ruling that a class action lawsuit against an engineering company regarding the Flint water crisis should be decided in state court. In October a Michigan judge ruled that Flint residents could continue pursuing a lawsuit against state officials [JURIST report] over the recent water crisis. In May the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [official website] filed a lawsuit against Michigan officials [JURIST report] in federal court over charges of gross negligence and outrageous conduct. A month prior a group of concerned citizens filed a suit [JURIST report] against the Environmental Protection Agency over its response, or lack thereof, in relation to the water crisis plaguing the citizens of Flint.