In the state of Wisconsin, Marsy’s Law serves as a very important set of enforceable rights which are reserved for those who have been victims of a crime. Just as the criminal justice system ensures that those who have been accused of a crime have certain liberties, Marsy’s Law protects the victims of that crime from undue stress and harm.
In 1983, Marsalee (Marsy) Ann Nicholas was a 21-year-old in school to become a special education teacher. She had been dating a carpenter by the name of Kerry Conley for nearly five years at that point, a tenuous relationship that led to their breakup on Thanksgiving of that year. Just five days later, Conley was able to talk her into a meeting at his residence in the dead of night.
But this was no reconciliation. When Marsy showed up on November 30, 1983, her ex-boyfriend shot her in the face with a shotgun. She died four hours later in the hospital.
Her family was devastated, but the tragedy was not quite finished. Just a week later, on the way home from her funeral service, Marsy’s mother Marcella encountered her daughter’s murderer at the market where she was picking up a loaf of bread. No one in the family had been notified when Conley was released on bail just days after the murder, and a confrontation ensued at the market.
The undue heartbreak that Marsy’s family experienced after her death led her brother Dr. Henry T. Nicholas III, to spearhead an initiative to protect victims’ rights in cases like this. It took nearly two years for Conley to be brought to justice, and another 23 before Marsy’s Law would be put into effect in California. Since then, Marsy’s law has been signed into law in 12 more states including Wisconsin.
Ultimately, Marsy’s Law represents a leap forward for enshrining constitutional protections for victims of crime, giving them the dignity they deserve during their most trying times. To ensure that no one is blindsided as Marsy’s family was, the chief function of the law is to ensure that victims and their families are notified of public proceedings germane to their case and are allowed to be present and have their voices heard.
But beyond that, it codifies the notion that victims of crimes deserve meaningful and enforceable rights at every step in the criminal justice process equal to those of the accused. The rights of the accused are not impacted by Marsy’s Law – it merely ensures that victims enjoy the same rights.
If you or your family member is a victim in a criminal case, these are rights granted to you by the state of Wisconsin. However, it can sometimes be difficult to ensure those rights are being protected by the state. You may also be experiencing anxiety that the accused may be released, confusion over the process or a desire to be compensated for your losses.
If so, you may find it helpful to meet with an attorney who specializes in protecting victims’ rights under Marsy’s Law. The attorneys at Tracey Wood & Associates have a successful track record of shielding victims from further harm and fighting for their constitutional rights, built on our tenacious focus on preparation. We learn more about your case, and we build that relationship with you, to help you find justice.
If you have been a victim of a crime, Marsy’s Law outlines all of your rights under the law. Contact Tracey Wood & Associates today to start fighting for those rights.
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