Cass County States Attorney Birch Burdick joined me on my radio show today to talk about Marsy’s Law, also known as Measure 3 on your November ballot.
I had intended this segment to be a debate between the two sides of the issue, but the Marsy’s Law proponents declined to participate. I’m told they’ve been turning down a lot of debates with the opposition lately – the folks opposing the measure say the other side keeps canceling on them at events – which maybe isn’t surprising given that the opposition seems to be just about the entire North Dakota legal community.
So far the North Dakota Victim’s Assistance Association, CAWS North Dakota, the North Dakota Women’s Network, the North Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the North Dakota State’s Attorneys Association, the North Dakota Trial Lawyers, and the First Nations Womens Alliance all oppose this measure.
Anyway, Mr. Burdick called Marsy’s Law the idea of a “rather eccentric billionaire,” referring to California tech entrepreneur Henry Nicholas who has, so far, been the sole source of contributions for the measure committee.
“We don’t have a problem in North Dakota,” Burdick said of the status of victims rights. He said the state has very strong laws protecting victims in the statutes, and was critical of the measure proponents for not bringing their ideas to the Legislature as opposed to putting them on the ballot. He said that should voters approve Marsy’s Law for the state constitution it will be difficult to make changes to it.
“Once you put it in place it’s essentially carved in stone,” Burdick said, noting that any changes would also have to be approved by the voters.
Burdick added that the law is too broad in its definition of victims. As an example he said that a streaker at a concert event could make “victims” out of the thousands of people in attendance, with Marsy’s Law requiring that the state provide services to each and every one of those “victims” as required under the amendment.
That’s problematic, to say the least.
Here’s the full audio: