Backlash greets Marsy’s Law as it sparks spending, secrecy and slower prosecutions

By Seth Tupper Journal Staff

Judge Marya Tellinghuisen sat on the hotseat Monday in the Pennington County Courthouse, trying her best to interpret the new Marsy’s Law on the fly.

In a case involving domestic violence and drunken driving, prosecutors had not been able to reach the victim to discuss the suspect’s bail, as apparently required by the constitutional amendment. Tellinghuisen decided to set bail anyway, because the female defendant had already been incarcerated for 13 days.

“At some point, her rights trump Marsy’s Law,” Tellinghuisen said.

In another case, Tellinghuisen sentenced a homeless man after he spent the previous six days in jail for a misdemeanor charge of trespassing in a parking garage. Prior to the passage of Marsy’s Law, the man might have been sentenced the morning after his arrest, but his jail stay was lengthened as prosecutors pondered the need to discuss sentencing with the victim — in this case, either the Rapid City Main Street Square organization or city government, which owns the parking garage.

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