Marsy’s Law Debate Should Be Based On Facts

I recently read an argument claiming that Marsy’s Law is unconstitutional because it “would allow an alleged victim of a crime to refuse to be deposed by the defense lawyer.” This claim is absolutely without merit. Well-settled U.S. Constitutional law holds defendants do not have an affirmative pretrial right to interview or depose victims. In addition, the language in Marsy’s Law pertaining to this issue has been in the Arizona State Constitution for over 25 years. Nothing in Marsy’s Law abrogates a defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution.

In Crawford v. Washington (2004), U.S. Supreme Court ruling in held defendants have a right to cross-examine out-of-court statements made against them. This right is settled case law that cannot be infringed. The Confrontation Clause in the 6th Amendment guarantees criminal defendants the opportunity to face the prosecution’s witnesses in the case against them and dispute the witnesses’ testimony. This guarantee applies to both statements made in court and statements made outside of court that are offered as evidence during a trial.

There are no provisions in Marsy’s Law that are unconstitutional as already proven in many jurisdictions across the country. Thirty-two states have crime victim rights in their state constitutions and, at least, fifteen of them have very strong provisions similar to the language in Marsy’s Law. Every section in Marsy’s Law is currently in law, either in South Dakota, another state, or federal law.

I welcome strong debate about the provisions in Marsy’s Law, but the debate needs to be based in fact, not baseless claims, unrealistic hypothetical arguments or fear mongering.

Jason Glodt
State Director
Marsy’s Law for South Dakota