Worth the Wait? The Fight Over Marsy’s Law isn’t Over

Some attorneys in the state say it may take years to figure out the meaning and boundaries of Marsy’s Law.

Many say victim’s rights are important, but think parts of the law have the potential to cause problems.

A number of lawyers in North Dakota fought to keep Marsy’s Law from passing in November.

Now that voters have passed it into constitution, those same lawyers say the new law will complicate court cases.

“I did not support the passage of Marsy’s Law because I didn’t think that it did anything but create additional problems,” said Fargo attorney William Kirschner.

Kirschner thought current laws were enough to protect the rights of victims.

Supporters of Marsy’s Law felt getting it into the constitution was necessary.
“When you have something that’s just in statute, it really doesn’t have any piece to it and those victims are falling through the cracks,” said Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick.

Burdick says just about every attorney in the state didn’t want Marsy’s Law to pass.

But now that it’s here, he says it’s time to move forward and continue doing what’s best for North Dakotans.
“I think we did a really good job here enforcing victims rights, laws that existed already,” said Burdick. “But the voters passed a new law and we’re gonna do everything we know how to implement that properly.”
State officials expect defense attorneys to quickly challenge the measure at hearings, saying its content is too vague.

But Lacee Anderson says further litigation is unnecessary.
“In terms of increasing litigation, that’s just not going to happen,” said Anderson, who is a spokesperson for Marsy’s Law. “There’s lots of case law out there that already support these rights and define what they are.”
Kirschner says he doesn’t think Marsy’s Law will delay many trials, but does think it has the potential to.
“We need to wait and see what happens and just understand that things have unintended consequences,” he explained. “And that’s what we’re going to see. What are the unintended consequences of this law, and then can we fix them.”

Marsy’s Law becomes law in North Dakota on December 8th.

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