Marsy’s Law Campaign Launches First TV Ad Claiming Victim’s Family Was “Traumatized” by Criminal Justice System

Marsy's Law for North Dakota supporter Pam Perleberg holds up a photo of her brother Donnie Perleberg who was killed at a wedding reception last year. Screen Capture via YouTube

The Marsy’s Law for North Dakota campaign has launched their first television ad. In a press release the campaign describes it as ” a significant ad buy that will be seen statewide to educate and inform voters.”

Marsy’s Law is Measure 3 on the November ballot. It’s a lengthy and complicated amendment to the state constitution inserting what supporters say are rights for victims and their family and detractors say is a potential watering down of legal protections for the accused.

For some reason the contributions to the measure campaign aren’t showing up on the Secretary of State’s website (their last report was filed July 1). Past disclosures have shown that the campaign has been funded exclusively by California billionaire Henry Nicholas.

Marsy’s Law spokeswoman Amanda Godfread told me earlier today that Nicholas was still the primary financial support behind the camping.

The ad released today focuses on Pam Perleberg, sister to Donnie Perleberg, who was murdered at a wedding reception in New Rockford last year.

What’s interesting about the ad is that Pam Perleberg’s claims that her family was “traumitized” by the criminal justice system after her brother’s murder. She says that one day the man accused of murdering him could be let out of jail.

But here’s something to remember: The man accused of murdering Donnie Perleberg’s, one David Troske, hasn’t been found guilty yet. Per court records, it looks as though there is a hearing scheduled for two weeks at which Mr. Troske plans to announce a change of plea.

As tragic as Perleberg’s murder was, I’m not sure how his family could be traumatized by a criminal justice process that hasn’t yet been completed.

Also, Pam Perleberg says this during the ad: “Without Marsy’s Law, Donnie’s murderer can be let out of jail, and my family might not even be notified.”

I’m not sure that’s an accurate claim. North Dakota has an existing victim notification service in state statute which will send out alerts (via phone, email, or text message) about incarcerations/releases, trial dates, hearings, probation, paroles, and restraining orders to victims, the family of victims, and “other concerned citizens” for free.

“Existing North Dakota law already provides that correctional authorities must notify victims and family members of a Defendant’s release from custody,” Fargo-based defense attorney Mark Friese told me in response to the ad. “Without Marsy’s Law, families electing to receive notifications will be notified.”

At best this ad seems disingenuous.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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