Marsy's Law

North Dakota counties – and cities with municipal courts – are getting billed for upgrades to the state’s crime victim notification system that are needed after voters passed a victim rights constitutional amendment.

That amendment – called “Marsy’s Law” – was approved by voters in 2016.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem asked the 2017 Legislature for $815,000 over two years to make changes to the system, called “SAVIN” – which stands for  Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification.

Hogue proposes "Marsy's Law" Legislative fix

Mar 6, 2018

The chairman of the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee is drafting a bill to help clarify Marsy’s law.

That’s the initiated Constitutional amendment on victims’ rights voters passed in 2016.

Sen. David Hogue (R-Minot) said his bill would require a crime victim to affirmatively invoke Marsy’s law, rather than assuming it’s automatic.

"Of all the rights they (crime victims) have, in over half of them, it specifically says the Marsy's Law rights have to be asserted by the victim," Hogue said. "In some of them, it's silent."

The chairman of the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee says Marsy’s Law – the initiated law that’s now a part of the state Constitution – is raising a lot of questions.

The measure – passed by North Dakota voters last November -- put a specific list of crime victims’ rights in the state Constitution.

Recently, a police officer who was involved in an altercation and shooting at a Bismarck motel tried to invoke Marsy's Law to keep his identity secret. But his name appeared on court documents.

'Marsy's Law' cards coming

Jan 23, 2017

When voters approved "Marsy's Law" -- the Constitutional measure on crime victims' rights -- the law required "Marsy's cards" to be given out by law enforcement.

Those cards were to spell out a victim's rights.

"Across the state, different jurisdictions were doing different versions of a 'Marsy's Card,'" said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. "Some had a simple business card-sized document taht had a link to a Website. Others were handing out the entire Constitutional provision. Neither one of those are very helpful."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state’s Office of Management and Budget said an initiated Constitutional measure on the November ballot would cost North Dakota taxpayers nearly $4 million in the 2017-2019 biennium.

The measure – dubbed “Marsy’s Law” – would put rights of crime victims in the Constitution.

That estimate was given to the Legislative Management Committee – and it will be posted to the Secretary of State’s Website. OMB also said if it passes, it would cost $1.1 million to implement in the remainder of the current two year budget period.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A group has submitted signatures to get a victim’s rights Constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

Supporters of Marsy’s Law needed 26,904 valid signatures. The group delivered more than 44,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office.

The supporters say crime victims should have the same Constitutional rights as those accused of a crime.

Supporters say those rights include a victim’s right to be heard in court, to be notified of court proceedings and to be free from harassment. That would also include a victim’s right not to be deposed.