I don’t know if Henry Nicholas has bought any bloggers in North Dakota the way he has in South Dakota to promote his vanity bill of crime victims rights (known in South Dakota as Amendment S), but his astroturf “Marsy’s Law” is certainly drawing fire from opponents. Lawyer and blogger Chad Nodland has thoroughly explained how Marsy’s Law snarls up the criminal justice system and could put innocent people behind bars. Now Jim Fuglie of The Prairie Blog says Nicholas is spending big money to impose a constitutional amendment that North Dakota doesn’t need:
So I got curious today when I read the headline on Mike Nowatzki’s Forum News Service story that said “California man donates $1M to N.D. Marsy’s Law supporters; 44,000 signatures submitted to get measure on ballot.”
…Pretty much the entire legal community in North Dakota has pooh-poohed the idea, saying it is not necessary to put things in the Constitution that are already covered in state laws. And that there are no problems with a victim’s rights in North Dakota [Jim Fuglie, “Sex, Drugs, and Marsy’s Law,” The Prairie Blog, 2016.05.11].
Fuglie points to a post by former Fargo judge Tom Davies, who agrees that Marsy’s Law is unnecessary and harmful to the state criminal justice system:
“Marsy’s Law” is a bad idea. It proposes to amend the North Dakota Constitution because victims’ rights have not been respected … in California. North Dakota already has remedies in place that accomplish what this nationally promoted measure seeks to accomplish.
…Briefly, if this proposed constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law were to pass, it would create havoc in the North Dakota Century Code. Only God knows how many sections would be impacted. That would only be discovered after some right that was previously protected was now adversely impacted by this unnecessary law.
Constitutional provisions are broad. Court interpretation and litigation are required to define them. Statutes, on the other hand, are very precise and are less subject to interpretation. In North Dakota, they now already provide precisely what the victims’ advocates want.
The current system can handle cranky lawyers who might try to abuse witnesses. The Supreme Court can address any erroneous ruling by the lower courts … and trust me, when the lawyers get out of line, the ethical consequences can be severe [Tom Davies, “The Verdict: Marsy’s Law Is a Bad Idea,” Unheralded Fish, 2016.05.05].
Protecting victims of domestic abuse was a frequent hook used by Marsy’s Law petition circulators last fall. I continue to find it strange that Marsy’s Law did not arise from any grassroots push from South Dakota’s domestic abuse shelters or victims advocacy groups. But Henry Nicholas might know a thing or two about domestic abuse:
Nicholas most recently made news in January of this year when his girlfriend, a 40-something named Melissa Montero, filed a $70 million lawsuit against him, alleging he abused her emotionally and physically and then broke a promise to take care of her financially for life. The case is in its early stages. It should be an interesting one. Melissa (interesting coincidence, eh?) had been with him from 2010 until last fall, when she moved out, fearing for her safety. Nicholas cut off her $25,000 monthly allowance. That prompted her lawsuit [link added; Fuglie, 2016.05.11].
Officially, Henry Nicholas has so far spent $1.6 million astroturfing North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana with his unnecessary vanity project. A $70-million lawsuit would put a crimp in most people’s political spending. But Nicholas and partner Henry Samueli sold Broadcom last year for $37 billion, so Nicholas can buy all the lawyers and girlfriends and drugs and unnecessary constitutional amendments he wants.