Former Michigan Gov. Snyder will take 5th if called to testify in Flint water trial

FILE - Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder delivers his State of the State address at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich., on Jan. 23, 2018. A year after unprecedented charges against the former governor, the Flint water prosecution of Snyder and eight others is moving slowly, bogged down by disputes over millions of documents and even whether some cases were filed in the proper court. (AP Photo/Al Goldis, File) (Al Goldis, Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who faces misdemeanor charges in the Flint water crisis, wants to avoid testifying in a civil trial involving engineering firms that are being sued over liability for lead-contaminated water.

Snyder's attorneys said he would invoke his right to remain silent if called as a witness in the ongoing civil trial in federal court in Ann Arbor.

“To be clear, Gov. Snyder maintains his innocence,” Brian Lennon said in a court filing. “But as the Supreme Court has recognized, the Fifth Amendment privilege is available to the innocent.”

A judge has scheduled a March 15 hearing on Snyder's request that a subpoena be set aside, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Snyder earlier sat for a deposition, which is an on-the-record interview with lawyers in the lawsuit. But that was before he was charged with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty, Lennon noted.

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.

They were not part of a $626 million settlement between Flint residents and the state of Michigan, the city and two other parties.