Top State Public Defender Concerned About Victims’ Rights Amendment

Says 'Marsy’s Law' Could Put Victims Rights Above Those Of Accused

Wisconsin State Capitol
Rough Tough, Real Stuff (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Wisconsin’s deputy public defender said he has reservations about a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at elevating victims’ rights, known as Marsy’s Law.

Michael Tobin told Wisconsin Public Radio Tuesday that victims already have constitutional rights in the state. Tobin said this amendment could affect the presumption of innocence for those accused of a crime.

“The present proposal is to take out that language that says ‘nothing shall limit the rights of the accused,’” he said. “The proposal is to strike that, delete that from the constitution now.”

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Tobin said in doing that, the amendment could potentially put the rights of the victim above the rights of the accused, who haven’t yet been convicted and are presumed innocent.

Supporters of the amendment say this will put victim’s rights at equal-footing with the alleged perpetrator.

State Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, and Rep. Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville, have sponsored the bill in the legislature. The measure also has the backing of state Attorney General Brad Schimel.

The effort to get Marsy’s Law passed in Wisconsin is part of an effort to pass similar legislation across the country. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, similar amendments have passed in California, Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.

Marsy’s Law is named for Marsy Nicholas, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in California in 1983.