Meet Your Marsy’s Law Team – Chuck Denowh
In 2009, Dr. Henry Nicholas formed Marsy’s Law for All and, throughout the years, many talented and passionate individuals have answered the call to help ensure victims have the rights they deserve. The Marsy’s Law for All team is comprised of men and women across the United States who are dedicated to serving victims of crime, in some cases themselves having personally experienced the devasting effects of being victimized. We are grateful for the opportunity to share the stories of those behind Marsy’s Law for All and why we have chosen to commit ourselves to helping victims through the passage of Marsy’s Law.
Please meet Chuck Denowh, Marsy’s Law For Montana State Director, who is responsible for working with citizens, advocates and lawmakers across Montana who are joining the effort to help pass Marsy’s Law.
What made you interested in working with Marsy’s Law For Montana?
Marsy’s Law is so commonsensical that most people are surprised to learn that the Constitutional protections embodied within it are not already the law in Montana. We just expect those protections to be there for us—for the criminal justice system to work for victims—that it’s unexpected when it doesn’t happen that way. And unfortunately, most people learn that the hard way—by being victimized by crime.
And there’s a real need for these protections in Montana. I hear stories all the time from victims about what went wrong for them in the criminal justice process. It’s not that anyone is doing it intentionally, it’s just the way the system is set up. So, I quickly saw the potential that Marsy’s Law had to fix those systemic issues and empower crime victims. This is a big change that is going to affect a lot of people. It might not solve every problem, but at least it will introduce more consistency and give victims a real voice in the process.
Is there any experience you can/would be comfortable sharing about how Marsy’s Law could’ve/has affected you personally?
I’ve had several very difficult conversations with victims telling me their stories, and my heart goes out to them every time. I remember the first meeting I had with a victim and the story he told about his son who was murdered by a drug dealer. That crime occurred about 20 years ago, but it was still raw and emotional for him. I came away from that meeting with the realization that when you’re victimized by a crime like that there’s nothing that makes it go away—the courts can administer what society considers justice, but that’s just a small consolation to the families left behind.
Are there any experiences that have stuck out in your mind since you’ve joined the Marsy’s Law For Montana team?
The night before we turned in our signatures sticks out for me. Our signature team turned over their work to me in the form of a hotel luggage cart filled to the gills with boxes of signatures. It was a surreal sight. And I couldn’t wait to get those signatures out of my possession and into the county courthouses—I was scared the entire time I’d lose a box somewhere along the way.
Tell us something fun we don’t know about you!
The first weekend in May this year I ran in a Spartan Beast race. I’ve never competed in a race of any kind and, for my first one, I picked a pretty difficult one. It was thirteen miles up and down the (very steep) mountains overlooking Flathead Lake with about 30 obstacles along the way (think carrying heavy things, climbing walls and ropes, crawling under barb wire, etc.). It was the most difficult physical activity I’ve ever undertaken, but I finished. It’s probably my first and last race.
If you could explain why you personally think Marsy’s Law is needed, what would you say?
Our law enforcement and prosecutors in Montana really do an excellent job. But when something does go wrong for a victim in the criminal justice process, there is no recourse for them. Marsy’s Law will ensure that the things that are supposed to happen for victims do happen, every time.