WNA: Marsy’s Law has no impact on public’s right to access government records

James Friedman

The following statement written by James Friedman, legal counsel for the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, outlines the association’s position on the impact of Marsy’s Law on public records.

In April of this year, the Wisconsin electorate approved Marsy’s Law, which had passed the Wisconsin Legislature in two consecutive sessions.  Marsy’s Law, which amends Article I, section 9m of the Wisconsin Constitution, provides various rights to crime victims. 

Recently, at least one public record custodian has indicated that he believes Marsy’s Law restricts access to certain information about crime victims contained in public records. 

The Wisconsin Newspaper Association strongly disagrees.  Based on the plain language of Marsy’s Law, the legislative history in Wisconsin, and court interpretations of privacy rights and public records, it is quite clear that Marsy’s Law has no impact on the public’s right of access to government records.