Judge Orders Michigan AG Withhold Detroit Bankruptcy Mediation Documents
FLINT, MI – A federal bankruptcy judge is restraining the release of documents related to the City of Detroit bankruptcy mediation by Flint water crisis prosecutors.
In a five-page order issued Thursday, June 17, Judge Thomas J. Tucker said he also wanted to review samples of the documents that were provided to lawyers for former Governor Rick Snyder and eight others accused of crimes related to the water crisis as part of their forensic discovery process.
Tucker presided over a court hearing on Wednesday June 16 on the same matter and had indicated he planned to issue the order this week.
“Effective immediately, and unless and until this Court decides otherwise in a future order, the Michigan Department of the Attorney General is prohibited from disclosing to any person or entity any information or material which is covered by the confidentiality provisions of previous mediation orders of this Court, ”the judge’s order reads.
“These confidentiality provisions state the following, applicable to all mediation proceedings in this bankruptcy case: All proceedings, discussions, negotiations and writings relating to the mediation must be privileged and confidential and must not be disclosed, filed. or put in evidence. “
Lawyers for Snyder, who faces two criminal charges of willful breach of duties related to the water crisis, filed a petition in U.S. bankruptcy court in Detroit in May, seeking an order holding the prosecutor’s office general and those responsible for “this inappropriate release.” information ”in civil contempt.
The attorney general’s office argued that Snyder lacked standing to file the petition, that he had taken precautions to protect sensitive information related to mediation in the Detroit bankruptcy, and asked the judge to change the court order for mediation to bind parties in Flint’s water cases. disclose the bankruptcy documents they have received.
Tucker’s order says that while Snyder does not have standing to have filed the petition, he has the power to consider whether, as the petition alleges, the Attorney General “violated the confidentiality provisions of the petitions. mediation orders made by this Court, and if so, order appropriate remedies for such violation of the orders of this Court.
Lawyers involved in Wednesday’s hearing said prosecutors for Flint Waters from the Attorney General’s Office obtained documents related to the Detroit bankruptcy when they served a search warrant in May 2019 on the other side. of a “wall of conflict” within the Ministry of the Attorney General.
Although the Flint Water attorneys are part of the Attorney General’s office, they are “walls” of other attorneys in the office who have represented other state employees and offices during the water crisis or who currently represent the office. State against civil lawsuits related to Flint.
In addition to information relating to the Detroit bankruptcy, which occurred while Snyder was governor, the search warrant resulted in the seizure of state-owned mobile devices and other electronic data from former officials, including Snyder, in storage. , his senior advisor Richard Baird, and former director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Nick Lyon.
Snyder, Baird and Lyon are among nine current and former employees of the State and City of Flint who face criminal charges related to the water crisis.
Snyder’s pursuit of the contempt order is in line with allegations made by his lawyers so far in the criminal case against him.
The former governor’s legal team criticized the treatment of privileged documents by Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who head the prosecution, including their decision not to use a special team of “contamination” or “filter” in the course of their investigation.
A “contamination team” is a team of prosecutors and officers unrelated to a criminal investigation who examines seized documents to determine if the information is privileged before it is disclosed by way of discovery. .
Snyder’s attorneys said on Wednesday that tens of thousands of privileged documents, including the “entire mailbox” of former Detroit Emergency Manager Kevin Orr, had been turned over to attorneys for the nine defendants in the cases of Flint Water, contrary to the bankruptcy court order.
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