Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin Praises Appeals Court Decision Upholding Victims’ Rights to be Heard

Appeals court rules that newly adopted crime victims’ constitutional amendment grants victims standing, right to he heard in arguments on crucial motion

MADISON  Today the Wisconsin District IV Court of Appeals issued an opinion upholding the right of crime victims to be heard during legal proceedings when their rights are implicated. The opinion reverses a previous lower court decision regarding what are commonly referred to as Shiffra-Green motions, which involve releasing the personal health records of a victim during a trial and are most often invoked in sexual assault cases.

Writing for the unanimous appellate court, Judge Michael R. Fitzpatrick concludes that the 2020 crime victims’ constitutional amendment, commonly known as Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin, grants crime victims standing to oppose, and to make arguments supporting their opposition to, a defendant’s Shiffra-Green motion.  The court further ruled that the rights in the new Marsy’s Law amendment are available to all crime victims even if the case began before the amendment took effect in May of this year. 

“Today’s decision is a huge win for Wisconsin crime victims,” said Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin Outreach Director Nela Kalpic. “Because of the constitutional rights afforded to all crime victims under Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin, victims now have the ability to have their voice heard on whether their private medical and mental health records should be admissible in court. The judge still gets to decide, but at least the victim can now have her voice heard.”

Fitzgerald writes that granting the victim standing to oppose, and make arguments to the circuit court in the criminal case supporting their opposition does not impair the rights of the defendant because the victim’s input to the circuit court on the merits of the motion “does not implicate hallmarks of substantive criminal law.”

 

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About Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin

Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin is a grassroots coalition that championed a unique proposal to give victims of crime equal rights in our state, building on Wisconsin’s laws and history of leading on this issue. The crime victims’ rights state constitutional amendment, also known as Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin, was ratified during the April 7, 2020 election with an overwhelming 75 percent of voters in support.  Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail. In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas has made it his life’s mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights.

Victims and supporters interested in sharing their stories can email Wisconsin@marsyslaw.us.