Victims' Rights Laws Being Abused To Hide The Identities Of Cops Involved In Use Of Force Incidents

from the when-it-comes-to-LEO-opacity,-any-law-will-do dept

A law filled with good intentions and vague wording is, more often than not, a law named after the victim of a crime. So-called "Marsy's Laws" are being passed in states that grant crime victims extra rights, often at the expense of the accused's Constitutional rights. As Scott Greenfield explains, "Marsy's Laws" insert crime victims into a process that isn't theirs to be inserted into. Once a crime has been committed, the government takes over and it's between the prosecutor and the accused from that point forward. As harsh as it may sound, crime victims aren't in need of extra rights. Any effort made to "fix" this nonexistent problem only deprives others of their rights.

Prosecutors represent the government, not the victims or their families. The only party with rights in a criminal courtroom is the defendant, both because the Constitution provides it and because the defendant is the only person whose liberty is at stake.

It’s not that there is no way for a victim, or family, to obtain “justice.” They can sue civilly for their loss, in which case they will be a party to the proceeding, will be capable of choosing their own strategy and pursuing it as they deem fit. But the force of the state, the power of the police, the punishment of imprisonment or worse, is not there for the sake of the victims. It’s not theirs to use, and they get no say in the decisions that are ultimately made.

Most of these laws grant crime victims extra privacy. The laws block the release of identifying info about victims under the theory this will head off harassment of victims and their families. This privacy shield contains no exceptions for government employees, so of course it's being abused to protect people whose public service positions wouldn't normally allow them to keep their names out of the news. Scott Shackford has more details at Reason:

What on earth does a victim's rights law have to do with a police officer demanding to conceal his identity from the public? According to the Rapid City Journal, the officer in question shot 21-year-old Kuong Gatlauk following a confrontation during a traffic stop. According to the police report, Gatlauk made statements intending some sort of self-harm and fled from a police vehicle. In a confrontation, he apparently threw a beer can at the trooper and then tackled the trooper and tried to steal the trooper's gun, according to this report. The trooper was able to keep his gun and shot the suspect twice.

Because Gatlauk was subsequent charged with assaulting the trooper, the trooper is claiming the right under Marsy's Law to have his or her name kept confidential, even though this action happened in the course of public police work and much of the records involved are public records. The state's attorney general has agreed.

Considering how easy it is to "assault" an officer during the course of an arrest, this law could be used to hide the identities of officers accused of deploying excessive force or other unconstitutional policing. South Dakota's version of the law doesn't even require criminal charges to be officially filed by prosecutors for these protections to take effect. All it takes is being booked on charges, even if prosecutors decide not to move forward.

All the good intentions in the world won't undo the collateral damage. Police officers -- who already have access to a wealth of extra rights -- now have one more to use to further separate themselves from accountability. And it's all because tragedy tends to blind legislators to the possible negative side effects of feel-good legislation that grants one group special rights at the expense of everyone else.

Filed Under: marsy's laws, police, police identities, use of force, victims rights


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  1. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 3:01pm

    Victim or victimized?

    It is certainly good to know that certain law enforcement agencies consider themselves victims rather than persecutors.

    Now if they would only act like it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 4:12pm

    "Prosecutors represent the government, not the victims or their families."

    ... and the government represents the will of the public who just might happen to be members of that group.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Hubert Korper, 25 Oct 2018 @ 4:13pm

    So actually you're for excluding police officers.

    I think it's obvious that identifying police in these situations subjects them to the illegal mob tactics that are increasingly deployed particularly by anti-police, leftists and such. Mobs have recently chased Republicans out of restaurants. While likely not intended, I think the increasing insanity and incivility of leftists is good cause for this application.

    But it's not the police and legislators who are driving this increase, it's idiots who can't be civil. In this instance, you blithely relate that a person assaulted the police officer. That's the start of this specific. Revile that person.

    Look -- before usual yammerheads jump on their anti-police pro-drug anarchist rants -- in civil society one MUST sort of obey police. That's a trade-off. You blockquote that the gov't takes over, well similarly, good citizens MUST wait for their day in court. Anyone initiating physical violence is automatically in the wrong.

    The key problem of policing is that if a person doesn't obey the mild orders, then what's to stop them from going further? Until the police person is in actual jeopardy? Therefore, not obeying has clear trend and only way to stop the escalation before having to shoot someone is with what you liberals shriek is undue violence. You go on endlessly that have a right to shout obscenities at police and that only want to be doped out of your mind, Well, see, civilization just doesn't work if that becomes common. Try to grasp that having food and shelter and clean water almost free are beyond price, and the system is fragile. I find it a great trade-off: a little annoyed at police versus starving in the wilderness. You would think that too if rational.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 4:37pm

    Re: So actually you're for excluding our of the blues bullshit

    Why are you still here coward?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 4:41pm

    Re: So actually you're for excluding police officers.

    sadly you dont seem to understand why police were called for in the first place.

    Here's a hint. It is not to give people orders, or arrest people, or oppress them.

    The original need for police is to "protect and serve" the citizens. Furthermore the article, as is clearly stated, is suggesting that the law is bad regardless of if it's a police officer, or a non-police officer who's using it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Madd the Sane (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 4:55pm

    Re: So actually you're for excluding police officers.

    Mobs have recently chased Republicans out of restaurants.

    With who is the president, I don't blame them. It'd probably help if they stated what their positions are in regards to some things instead of just "I'm Republican. Anything my party does is right."

    I think the increasing insanity and incivility of leftists is good cause for this application.

    Of a police state? Sorry, but I don't want to be dragged kicking and screaming into the night, only to be never heard of again.

    […]you blithely relate that a person assaulted the police officer.

    On the officer's word. "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." Sadly, we can't get the word of Kuong Gatlauk because he's dead.

    Revile that person.

    Can't: We don't know who he is. The law makes it so.

    […]in civil society one MUST sort of obey police.

    What happens when police officers start making illegal demands, such as downloading the "Dallas Buyers Club" for them? If the police ask you to do that, it must be fine, right?

    The key problem of policing is that if a person doesn't obey the mild orders, then what's to stop them from going further?

    So it's okay for a police officer to say "Get on your knees, undo my zipper, and open wide!"? And if you refuse, he can sue you for sexual assault? It's the officer's word against yours, and when shielded by these "Marsy's Laws," you can't string the complaints without violating the law.

    Until the police person is in actual jeopardy?

    Sorry, but they're not even in the top 10 for most dangerous job.

    […]only way to stop the escalation before having to shoot someone is with what you […] shriek is undue violence.

    Lethal force should be the last resort, not the standard. Death is pretty final.

    And police seem to like to escalate things here in the USA, not deescalate.

    […]only want to be doped out of your mind […]civilization just doesn't work if that becomes common.

    I don't know, intoxication due to alcohol is fairly common, and legal, and society hasn't come crashing down.

    Am I in favor of recreational drugs? No, but I think this shows that that point is very weak.

    I find it a great trade-off: a little annoyed at police versus starving in the wilderness.

    Problem is, many people are not just "a little annoyed" at police: they're furious. Usually because an officer killed a family member in cold-blood and all the punishment they got out of it was a couple days of paid vacation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 4:56pm

    Re:

    ... and the government represents the will of the public who just might happen to be members of that group.

    Well, it is supposed to represent us, but it has failed to do so for the past 3 decades.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 4:59pm

    Re: So actually you're for excluding police officers.

    Well it is certainly evident that you are supporting police, right, wrong or indifferent. I think most of us would like to be in that same position, but numerous behaviors by various law enforcement agents have made that questionable, at the very least, and for some not currently in their line of thinking. (I am sure you can find the numerous instances of bad police behavior, but I am also sure you don't want to).

    There appears to be a tendency for law enforcement agents to demand respect. The problem is that respect is earned, and demands work in the opposite direction in order to achieve it.

    When LEO's approach every situation in an officious manner (assuming the 'command presence posture') they decrease their position when asking for respect. When this happens many, many, many times, it tends to be attributed to every LEO, whether they deserve it or not.

    I am not suggesting that the 'command presence posture' isn't important. The question is when to implement it. At the beginning of every conversation, or when it actually become a necessity? It appears they are trained incorrectly and impose it at the start of many more conversations than they need to.

    When the law enforcement constituency understands that being the bully is not going to engender empathy from the public, and starts to practice behavior that expounds respect for the public, in order to re-earn respect for themselves, things will get better. The thing is, they have been the bullies for so long, and the good amongst them have been silent for so long, that it is going to take a long, long, long time for this course to reverse itself.

    It is not just up to them, the public might react in ways they are not likely to like. I am not talking about killing anyone, but the many political avenues available to them. If only they can get their act together. Don't bet they wont, someday.

    Thing is, they, the LEO's, brought whatever that might be on themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    A.G.Ony, 25 Oct 2018 @ 5:44pm

    Too bad it isn't "up to" the attorney general

    That AG should be benched, disbarred and sent to work in the stockade at gitmo

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 5:45pm

    Re: Re: So actually you're for excluding police officers.

    I'm more interested in seeing citations for Republicans getting chased out en masse.

    Then again, knowing blue he's probably just going to link back to Alex Jones, if anything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:23pm

    Tim Cushing is a fucking idiot. FUCKING IDIOT! Here's what he says:

    Most of these laws grant crime victims extra privacy. The laws block the release of identifying info about victims under the theory this will head off harassment of victims and their families. This privacy shield contains no exceptions for government employees, so of course it's being abused to protect people whose public service positions wouldn't normally allow them to keep their names out of the news

    Get off the damn crack or whatever it is that you're on.

    I live in Michigan and if it wasn't for "Crime Victim's Rights" then the fucking moron who robbed me and threatened to blow my head off, and his psychotic wife who has tried to inflict physical harm on my body would be able to plant me six feet under the ground without those rights.

    I'm thankful that these type of laws protect the victims of a crime and they need to be stronger laws, not weaker laws.

    I bet if someone broke into your home, put a gun to your wife and daughter's head and threatened to blow you away if you told the cops then you'd be happy as hell that these laws exist.

    Why is it that fucking liberals get all hot and bothered about laws that protect the people until it's time that they need those laws to protect their own lives or families?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:42pm

    Re:

    "Why is it that fucking liberals get all hot and bothered about laws that protect the people until it's time that they need those laws to protect their own lives or families?"

    I'm all for laws that protect the people. What I'm not for is a public servant using those laws to hide their identity from the public whenever they commit an act of state-sanctioned violence. What good is served by keeping the public from knowing about potentially abusive cops serving in their neighborhood?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:48pm

    You sound concerned

    What is it with you copsuckers and always being complete asshole right wing nut jobs?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:49pm

    Re: Re:

    Indeed. The law might be good for victims, but if it so badly written that LEO's can use it to hide themselves, it is not a good law. I say might because that other recourse mentioned in the article, suing the purpetrator outside of any prosecutorial (state) action is available, but that would mean the victims names in a very public lawsuit. In that case the law is then null and void, for at least that case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 8:17pm

    Re:

    And if the individual threatening to put a bullet in your brain was a cop, would you like his identity hidden away?

    I remember when the idea of body cameras for cops started to gain traction; cops and their fans like you absolutely lost their shit, believing nothing favorable could come out of it.

    Then they realized that having footage on hand helps exonerate cops when they're falsely accused of wrongdoing. Imagine that!

    And even then it doesn't matter because entire platoons of cops still find some way to make sure all their body cams fail when performing a search without a warrant. And then mewling little subservients like you whine about how cameras on cops means cops will have footage of them in the toilet. Big whoop. "If you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to hide or fear" - sound familiar?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 11:54pm

    Re:

    Why, because threats aren't otherwise covered in Michigan law?

    Bullshit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 1:44am

    Re:

    I bet if someone broke into your home, put a gun to your wife and daughter's head and threatened to blow you away if you told the cops then you'd be happy as hell that these laws exist.

    Unless you move, they already know where you live, and so keeping you name hidden serves no purpose.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 7:01am

    Re: Re: So actually you're for excluding police officers.

    "The original need for police is to "protect and serve" the citizens" ..

    who own business and property (read slaves) and were used extensively to hunt down escaped slaves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 7:11am

    Re: So actually you're for excluding police officers.

    " illegal mob tactics"
    - Out of curiosity, what might this entail?

    "Mobs have recently chased Republicans out of restaurants"
    - and that has been equated to receiving bombs, as if they were even close to being the same thing.

    "incivility of leftists"
    - If one were to observe from an unbiased pov, it would become clear that the incivility is prevalent upon all aspects of society and is not concentrated within one particular group. But those like yourself who refuse to view the world from an objective pov will continue to spew their bigoted bullshit which most everyuone else is getting sick and tired of - so they yell and scream at them, what do you expect?

    After calling for civility, Donald wasted no time (an hour?) before continuing his incivility ... apparently he and his friends think civility only applies to other people.

    "anti-police pro-drug anarchist rants" you are quite delusional.

    "if a person doesn't obey the mild orders" LOLOLOLOL

    The beatings will continue until moral improves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    Ed (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 8:45am

    Reason #5268 for why you should never trust a cop. Never. They are NOT on your side. They exist solely to protect themselves and their government, not citizens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Chuck, 26 Oct 2018 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re:

    The law is supposed to represent ALL of thus, and until a verdict is rendered, that includes the accused. To prejudice the victims in favor of the accused is neither better nor worse than prejudicing the accused in favor of the victim, but the difference is the accused faces anything from years in prison to state-sponsored execution, while the victim suffers nothing more than some emotional trauma.

    While deserving of ample consideration, I'd much rather we have a victim that FEELS like they didn't get justice when an innocent defendant is rightfully acquitted than someone sitting on death row who didn't commit the damn crime!

    In any case, cops are not victims, because victims are never the ones who are under investigation. Thus the behavior in TFA remains obscene.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2018 @ 2:09pm

    And cue all the documents pertaining to the hundreds of rapes and sexual abuse (often of teenagers and children) being swept under the rug.

    Not to mention the ACTUAL FUCKING CONCENTRATION DEATH CAMP in the middle of Chicago run by the police department (homan square)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 5:28am

    Re:

    Why is it that fucking liberals get all hot and bothered about laws that protect the people until it's time that they need those laws to protect their own lives or families?

    Why is it you fucking 2nd Amendment conservatives are such chicken shit cowards? You want your guns to protect yourselves. So fucking quit being a lazy twat and protect yourself!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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