After two months of confusion, Marsy’s Law could start to make a little more sense.
The state’s Attorney General’s office has taken it upon itself to speed up standardizing procedures for the recently passed victim rights law.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem noticed the issues public offices were facing and stepped in the standardize procedure. Up until this point, public officials were handling enforcement and compliance with the law to the best of their ability, but in nonuniform ways.
Wayne Stenehjem: “Jurisdictions in North Dakota were simply reprinting the entire constitutional prevision which is lengthy, complicated, doesn’t answer a lot of questions. Others were just printing up simple little business cards with a website and it seemed to me neither one of those were particularly useful to people who are victims are crimes.”
With Marsy’s law, victims can now receive online notifications for their perpetrator’s trial. By registering online, a victim can receive emails notifying them about progress and changes in a trial. It doesn’t yet apply to all cases.
Wayne Stenehjem: “There’s some shortfalls on that because our system right now, with the computer program we have doesn’t allow that information to be distributed from municipal courts or juvenile courts. And we’ll have to update our computer programing as that go along.”
Now every police officer in North Dakota will carry and give a small card to crime victims. The card explains how a victim can assert their rights, what those rights are, and who to get in contact with.
Stenehjem also touched on conflicting aspects of Marsy’s law and open records law.
Wayne Stenehjem: “The name of a victim are going to be open records and they’ll be available but their contact information, much of which is already confidential anyway, but, a telephone number, a home address, those kind of things, those are protected and they don’t have be divulged to anybody who asked for it.”
Stenehjem’s office said the Marsy’s Law cards have already been delivered to every law enforcement office in the state. Although some aspects of the new law will be handled on a case by case basis.. Stenehjem hopes their new standardization will clear up a lot of lingering questions.