A Dane County judge has ruled a measure meant to protect crime victims’ rights was improperly enacted and should be rescinded, but he allowed the law to remain in effect pending an appeal.
Voters adopted what’s known as Marsy’s Law as an amendment to the state constitution in April. Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington, in a 36-page ruling Tuesday, said the question presented to voters was misleading.
The judge said voters should have been asked two questions instead of one so they were aware that the amendment both increased the rights of victims and diminished the rights of those accused of crimes.
“Voters deserve to know what they are voting on,” Remington wrote. “Only by framing a question that reasonably, intelligently and fairly comprised or referenced every essential [element] of the amendment, could the voters decide whether and how to change the rights of persons accused of crimes.”
Marsy's Law is named for Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, a California woman killed in 1983 by her ex-boyfriend, who was released from jail without notification to Nicholas. Versions of the law have been enacted in several states.
Wisconsin enacted its version when a majority of voters approved it in April.
The lawsuit challenging the law was brought by the Wisconsin Justice Initiative, state Democratic Sen. Fred Risser of Madison and defense attorneys Craig Johnson, Jacqueline Boynton and Jerome Buting.