Law enforcement, open records advocates differ on Marsy’s Law interpretation

When overwhelmingly passed by Wisconsin voters in April, Marsy’s Law was billed as a major step forward for crime victims’ rights, but public records advocates are raising concerns that an over-interpretation of the constitutional amendment by some law enforcement agencies could curtail access to public information.

Last week, the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office announced it would no longer include the names of victims, including businesses, in its daily list of incidents sent to news outlets. The sheriff cited Marsy’s Law as the reason for the change. Other law enforcement agencies say they are evaluating changes to their practices or seeking guidance from the state Department of Justice.

Tom Kamenick, president and founder of the Wisconsin Transparency Project, a law firm focused on enforcement of the state’s open records and open meetings laws, said the issue with Marsy’s Law comes down to the interpretation of privacy.

Under Marsy’s Law, victims of a crime are granted “privacy” and the protection of information or records that could “be used to locate or harass the victim or that could disclose confidential or privileged information of the victim.” Read more