Marsy’s Law impacting La Crosse County, judges say there is still a lot to learn

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Marsy’s Law passed in Wisconsin about four months ago, and local law enforcement say it makes a difference, but there is still a lot to learn. Marsy’s Law guarantees specific constitutional rights for victims when it comes to their court cases. But, Wisconsin has a long track record of protecting victim’s rights.

“In the Wisconsin Constitution and Victim rights Statutes and the Crime rights board which is unique in the nation,” said Tim Gruenke, La Crosse County District Attorney. “So Marsy’s Law didn’t change as much for Wisconsin as it did in other states.”

The law grants victims specific rights, including sealing information that can be used to locate them, such as an address or phone number. And in the world of Zoom Court.

“One of the first things that I did, I think on the morning after the constitutional amendment passed, is I immediately made all of the phone numbers that appear on my Zoom meetings confidential. Boom,” said Judge Ramona Gonzalez.

It granted other rights during hearings too.

“They also have the right to interject in the proceedings and to actually have a say in front of the judge, as a party not just a witness or bystander,” said Gruenke.

But overall, many of these rights are things the La Crosse County Court System and law enforcement have been doing for years.

“We have been very progressive in Wisconsin when it comes to protecting victim’s rights before,” said Gonzalez.

Critics of the law say it gives more rights to the victim, however local judges say otherwise.

“The rights of the victim are to be protected, no less vigorously than those of the defendant,” said Judge Gloria Doyle.

The only change the law makes is a constitutional one.

“When someone becomes a victim of crime, those constitutional rights attach,” said Gonzalez.

The law has been passed by several other U.S. states, and the judges have been attending trainings on the law.

“I think it’s going to be a process. some of this is going to be flushed out in the courts, some of it is going to be done by the legislature,” said Gonzalez.

So far 13 states across the U.S. have passed Marsy’s Law. The judges say the law has given them more tools to keep victims safe, but they’ll have to continue to learn from other states on how to practice this new law.