DETROIT (AP) — A judge on Thursday rejected a request to dismiss misdemeanor charges against a former Michigan governor in the Flint water scandal.

Lawyers for Rick Snyder said he worked in Ingham County, not Genesee County, so the indictment was returned in the wrong place. But Judge William Crawford II said prosecutors have flexibility about where to pursue a case.

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If the former Republican governor goes to trial, a jury will be asked to determine if charges of willful neglect of duty occurred in the boundaries of Flint and Genesee County, Crawford said.

Snyder’s attorneys plan to appeal. It’s the first of what will be many aggressive challenges to an unprecedented case against a sitting or former Michigan governor for alleged acts while in office.

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Snyder, who left office at the end of 2018, is charged with failing to timely declare an emergency in Flint, which used the Flint River for drinking water in 2014-15 without properly treating it to reduce corrosion. Lead in old pipes contaminated the system over 18 months.

Experts also blamed high bacteria levels in the water for a spike in Legionnaires’ disease.

Snyder is also accused of violating the state constitution by failing to check the performance of public officials under his control.

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