Sheriff Says Marsy's Law Petitioners Misrepresented Support

marsy's law north dakota

Earlier this week I wrote about a press release sent out by the Marsy’s Law for North Dakota committee, the group backing a petition for a victim’s rights amendment to the state constitution, which had them touting support from the state’s Sheriff’s & Deputies Association.

Only one sheriff says they’re being misleading about that.

“I am concerned about the public announcements recently that all sheriffs in North Dakota support the Marsy’s Law measure,” Mercer County Sheriff Dean Danzeisen wrote in an email to the state’s other sheriffs yesterday (PDF). “I know those claims aren’t true because I don’t support it, and I have talked to other sheriffs that either haven’t heard a thing about this, or oppose it.”

The email was forwarded to me by an official at one of the other counties. I have tried to contact Sheriff Danzeisen but have so far been unsuccessful.

The Marsy’s Law folks touted the resolution supporting their petition drive as the “unanimous” action of this organization. “At its annual meeting in Bismarck the North Dakota Sheriffs & Deputies Association unanimously voted to endorse Marsy’s Law for North Dakota,” they stated in their press release. And, indeed, that is what the resolution from the association says (PDF).

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”The Marsy’s Law people are taking the Board’s action and using it to mislead the public into thinking their measure has total support from the sheriffs of ND.”[/mks_pullquote]

But Sheriff Danzeisen argues in his email that the vote was only of the organization’s executive committee and that the group’s rank-and-file membership weren’t given a chance to even review the petition.

“Apparently this issue was brought up by the Board at the Association’s January meeting,” he wrote in his email. “One sheriff I talked to said there were only nine sheriffs in the room at the time and he didn’t vote on it himself. He didn’t think anyone had even read what the Board was talking about. The Marsy’s Law people are taking the Board’s action and using it to mislead the public into thinking their measure has total support from the sheriffs of ND.”

“I think our whole membership needs to get informed about what Marsy’s Law is all about and take this up as a membership,” he continued.

I reached out to the Marsy’s Law folks, and they stand behind the endorsement.

“We continue to be heartened by the support of the ND Sheriffs and Deputies Association,” Kathleen Wrigley, who is heading up the committee supporting the measure, said in a statement released to me. “As it states in their resolution, it was unanimously supported by those in attendance at their Jan 12 meeting.”

“Law enforcement, attorneys (including states attorneys) and others have been a part of Marsy’s Law for ND from the very start, having made suggestions to the language, which were all adopted to ensure it is in line with existing laws and practices in our state,” she continued. “We have reached out on several occassions, and will continue to reach out, to prosecutors and others who have questions. Marsy’s Law for ND virtually mirrors exisitng law, and thereby does not and cannot create many of the issues that are being falsely claimed. We look forward to continuing to discuss Marsy’s Law for ND and elevate victims’ rights so they have the respect and protection they deserve.”

Burleigh County Sheriff Pat Heinert, Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney and Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost are all on the Marsy’s Law committee.

Benson County Sheriff Steven Rohrer, who is also president of the Sheriffs and Deputies Association, signed the resolution endorsing Marsy’s Law and was also quoted in the group’s press release touting the amendment.

The North Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys has come out in opposition to this amendment, and the North Dakota State’s Attorney Association seems to be leaning that way.

Here is Sheriff Danzeisen’s email: