North Dakota Victim Rights Advocates Join Fight Against Marsy’s Law

Marsy’s Law is a proposed constitutional amendment that would, according to its supporters, create rights for victims that are equal to the rights protecting the accused. The measure is being backed in several states by California billionaire Henry Nicholas, who seems to be paying all the bills for the campaign here in North Dakota.

It has drawn some powerful opponents. Already the North Dakota State’s Attorneys’ Association opposes the bill, as does the North Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”County State’s Attorneys and victim advocate groups oppose Marsy’s law based on the reverse consequences the law could have on victims,” the press release, sent out by Jeff Eslinger of the North Dakota Association of Counties, states. “In addition, these groups believe amending the state’s Constitution for a special interest group is a risky proposition.”[/mks_pullquote]

It speaks volumes that both prosecutors and defense lawyers are on the same side on this one. And now joining them is a group which represents the people Marsy’s Law supposedly helps. According to a press release which just landed in my inbox this morning, the North Dakota Victim’s Assistance Association and “other victim advocates” will be announcing their opposition to Marsy’s Law tomorrow at a press conference in Bismarck.

“County State’s Attorneys and victim advocate groups oppose Marsy’s law based on the reverse consequences the law could have on victims,” the press release, sent out by Jeff Eslinger of the North Dakota Association of Counties, states. “In addition, these groups believe amending the state’s Constitution for a special interest group is a risky proposition.”

This is really bad news for the Marsy’s Law folks. They have some good spokespeople for the measure. Kathleen Wrigley, wife of Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley, is smart and articulate and can tell a compelling story from the perspective of a victim stemming from the tragic murder of her brother. She’s joined by some other victims and their family members who can also make sympathetic arguments.

But Marsy’s Law is shaping up to look like the local iteration of a national pet project funded by Nicholas but opposed by a growing list of state organizations representing people (prosecutors, victims advocates, defense attorneys) that the public respects.

I haven’t seen any polling on Marsy’s Law’s chances – I’m not sure there’s been any done – but I have to think that the odds of this passing are looking pretty long.

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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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