Marsy’s Law, although improperly enacted, stands for now.

Ten states, including Wisconsin, recently enacted Marsy’s Law as of April 2020, according to Ballotpedia. Montana repealed Marsy’s Law in 2017. Image courtesy of Allen Allen via Flickr.

Author: Cailyn Schiltz

In Dane County, a judge ruled that Marsy’s Law, which intended to protect the rights of crime victims, was improperly enacted and should be repealed.

Currently, the law is allowed to stand while waiting for another appeal. Wisconsin voters approved amending the state constitution with Marsy’s Law in April, according to Channel 3000

Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington said in a 36-page ruling Tuesday that the question presented to voters was misleading. He argues voters should have been asked two questions instead of one, so they knew they were both increasing the rights of victims and decreasing the rights of the accused. 

Ballotpedia reports that Marsy’s Law includes the following provisions

  • The right to be notified about and present at proceedings;
  • The right to be heard at proceedings involving release, plea, sentencing, disposition, or parole of the accused; 
  • The right to have the safety of the victim and victim’s family considered when making bail or release decisions;
  • The right to be protected from the accused;
  • The right to be notified about release or escape of the accused;
  • The right to refuse an interview or deposition at the request of the accused;
  • The right to receive restitution from the individual who committed the criminal offense.

However, the American Civil Liberties Union firmly opposes Marsy’s Law. They argue that it not only fails to actually protect victims of crimes, it eliminates due process and could lead to more false convictions. 

ACLU Wisconsin’s Staff Attorney, Asma Kadri, argues that crime victims are already guaranteed dignity and privacy under Article I of Wisconsin’s Constitution and that Marsy’s Law upends the fundamental principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” 

“Marsy’s Law would remove that presumption of innocence – tipping the scales of justice against the accused,”  Kadri said. “For example, Marsy’s Law would allow a person accusing another person of a crime to withhold evidence.”

Kadri also points out that Marsy’s Law can be manipulated to present the actual aggressors as “victims” and grant them additional legal protections. 

This is a developing story, WSUM will follow the existence of Marsy’s Law in Wisconsin and its effects.