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Digging deeper: Marsy’s Law on the April 7 ballot

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(WAOW) -- Marsy's Law, or state question 1 on your spring election ballot, aims to amend the Wisconsin constitution and give more rights to crime victims. While other states have passed similar laws, not all Wisconsin victim right's advocates are on board.

The question on the April 7 ballot reads:

“Additional rights of crime victims.  Shall section 9m of article I of the constitution, which gives certain rights to crime victims, be amended to give crime victims additional rights, to require that the rights of crime victims be protected with equal force to the protections afforded the accused while leaving the federal constitutional rights of the accused intact, and to allow crime victims to enforce their rights in court?”

Wisconsin Chiefs of Police is one of the organizations that supports Marsy's Law.

"From my perspective, Marsy's Law gives [victims] more voice, more ability to control what happens to their case and what happens to them within the prosecution of defenders," said Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven.

There are many parts to Marsy's Law, in fact the law lists out 16 victim rights. Some are already a part of the Wisconsin constitution.

But organizations like End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin and the Wisconsin ACLU are against Marsy's Law. They say it takes away rights of the accused person, and could potentially give rights to those who may not actually be victims.

"Victims would have the right to refuse defense attorney's interviews, a deposition or discovery requests," said Jenna Gormal with End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin.

She said that right to refuse is problematic because often victims of domestic violence can actually find themselves as the accused in court.

"Imagine being a wrongfully accused person and you're now unable to provide any exculpatory information in court to prove you're a victim," Gormal said.

But those in favor of the law, say there's no intention to take away a defendants rights.

"It shouldn't be interrupted to supersede a defendants federal constitutional rights," Bliven said.

Both sides agree it's necessary for Wisconsin voters to educate themselves on the issue before casting their ballot.

Sarah McGrew

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