WHAT IS MARSY'S LAW?
Marsy's Law is not a "law" at all. It is a proposed amendment to the New Hampshire Constitution. Calling it a "law" is the first act of deception by its proponents, packaging it as a new statute instead of a material alteration to the NH constitution. It is an out-of-state formula for victims’ rights, aimed at pitting victims’ rights against defendants’ rights. It would fundamentally alter our criminal justice system and threaten constitutional due process.
WHO IS PUSHING MARSY'S LAW IN NH?
Funding behind the push for "Marsy's Law" in New Hampshire comes via a California billionaire named Henry Nicholas, co-founder of semiconductor manufacturing giant Broadcom Corporation. It is named for his sister, Marsalee Nicholas, who was murdered by a former boyfriend in 1983. Many years after her murder, Nicholas embarked on a political campaign to develop a "victim's right constitutional amendment.” The amendment was placed on the ballot in California and was passed in 2008.
Ironically, Nicholas was indicted in June 2008 for stock fraud. At the same time, Nicholas was also indicted on drug charges. In 2016, Nicholas was sued for physical and emotional abuse by a longtime partner.
"Marsy's Law for NH" was formed on November 30, 2017 by Emilio Gonzales and the registered business address is 15 Enterpise, Suite 500, Aliso Viejo, CA; (949) 448 4303. Is it registered in NH at a single-family home at 149, Rumford Street, Concord, NH, 03301.
The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, along with nearly a dozen of NH's top lobbying groups, has taken the political lead in moving the "law" through the General Court.
The national Marsy’s Law campaign aims to insert its formula into every single state constitution in the United States, and then to add the same formula to the U.S. Constitution.
DOESN'T NH HAVE A VICTIM'S BILL OF RIGHTS?
Yes, In 1991, New Hampshire enacted NH RSA 21-M:8-k, the "NH Victims' Bill of Rights.” It has been amended 5 times since its original passage to expand and further confirm the rights of victims in New Hampshire. The so-called "Marsy's Law" victims’ rights are far less inclusive than those contained in NH statute.
The NH Victims’ Bill of Rights is comprehensive, enforceable, and mandatory upon the Department of Justice to enforce. The statute is enforced on a daily basis across the state. If there are examples of the statute not being fully enforced in every single case, that is more likely an issue of resources than an issue of law. Marsy’s Law, while a well-funded campaign, doesn’t actually bring any additional resources for victims’ services or for county attorney offices charged with enforcing victims’ rights.
DOES MARSY'S LAW CHANGE THE NH CONSTITUTION?
For 234 years, these FIFTY-FOUR words have served as the structure for NH citizens seeking remedies for damage or injury to themselves, their property and their characters:
[Art.] 14. [Legal Remedies to be Free, Complete, and Prompt.] Every subject of this State is entitled to a certain remedy, by having recourse to the laws, for all injuries he may receive in his person, property, or character; to obtain right and justice freely, without being obliged to purchase it; completely, and without any denial; promptly, and without delay; conformably to the laws. June 2, 1784".
"Marsy's Law" proponents do not believe 234 years of this constitutional guarantee has been sufficient to provide redress for crime victims and instead, seek to add 317 words in a separate amendment, the sum total of which do not even approach the remedies already available in statute.
The process for amending the Constitution is arduous; correcting a mistake like adding Marsy's law will be even more arduous.
HOW WOULD MARSY'S LAW HELP VICTIMS?
The promises of "Marsy's Law" will be shattered when victims realize that the government is immunized from any lawsuit triggered by its failure to guarantee the very "rights" it purports to grant.
Moreover, Marsy’s Law would greatly expand the definition of victim and would apply to all misdemeanors, significantly expanding the class of victims currently covered by our Victims Bill of Rights Statute. And yet, Marsy’s Law brings zero additional resources to help this expanded class. This is why Coalitions against Domestic and Sexual Violence in other states, including Maine, Iowa, and Idaho, have opposed Marsy’s Law – because it takes resources away from victims of domestic and sexual violence.
WILL MARSY'S LAW HURT VICTIMS?
Yes. "Marsy's Law" will provide bullet-proof constitutional immunity to each and every level of government - from governor to dog catcher - from citizen lawsuits.
The last laugh will be the government's.
Marsy’s Law is being sold to victims as a magical solution, and yet it brings zero additional resources. Victims’ services will not be any better. There will not be more victims’ advocates.
HOW DOES MARSY'S LAW AFFECT THE ACCUSED?
"Marsy's Law" makes an accused a "criminal" once a "victim" seeks to initiate his or her "rights" under Marsy's Law, perverting the foundation belief that one is innocent until proven guilty.
WILL THE ACCUSED STILL HAVE DUE PROCESS?
No. Persons accused by "victims" under Marsy's law will no longer have the right to face their accusers; "Marsy's Law" will allow a "victim" to refuse to be deposed, even if he or she has exculpatory evidence that might prove the accused's innocence. Victims would have a right to protection against someone who has not been proven guilty – and the right to protection is not defined, so nobody knows how far that right could extend.
HOW WILL THIS AFFECT THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROCESS?
Marsy’s Law is terribly drafted language. Nobody knows how it will be interpreted by courts. The ramifications could be far reaching. Proponents of Marsy’s Law argue that victims should have equal rights to defendants, and that victims’ rights should be able to compete with defendants’ rights. This suggests their goal is to infringe upon defendants’ rights. We will not recognize our criminal justice system if Marsy’s Law passes.
IS THERE AN ACTUAL NEED FOR MARSY'S LAW IN NH?
No, there is not. The NH Victim's Bill of Rights provides, statutorily, more protection and opportunity to receive and provide input into criminal proceedings.
There is nothing in Marsy’s Law that cannot be achieved via statute. Our statute has been improved five times and there is strong bipartisan support to continue to improve it. Our focus should be on the statute, rather than trying to jam through the legislature flawed, out-of-state language that will have far reaching ramifications to our judicial system and for our taxpayers.