Back to law enforcement: Davison County State’s Attorney Jim Miskimins says the new family-inclusive definition of “victim” may shut down Amber Alerts:
According to the amendment, a victim is any person who suffers physical, psychological or financial harm as a result of a crime. The definition also includes the victim’s spouse, parent, grandparent, child, sibling, grandchild or guardian.
While it’s difficult to predict how Marsy’s Law will affect future cases, Miskimins said this definition could affect Amber Alert investigations — in which a child is kidnapped — if the child is taken by a non-custodial parent. Since the child’s grandparents could be considered victims, they may be able to hide information from law enforcement, violating the best interests of the child [Jake Shama, “Marsy’s Law Leaving ‘Unintended Consequences’ on Public Information,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2016.11.25].
Once again faced with the unintended consequences of the vanity bill California billionaire Henry T. Nicholas paid him to push, Republican consultant and attorney Jason Glodt insists the language of his amendment isn’t a problem and that the courts can pick through each situation on a case-by-case basis. Surely a reasonable judge could see that a child’s right to safety takes precedence over claims of the parents of a kidnapper and that the police don’t have to contact every parent, grandparent, sibling, guardian, “and any person with a relationship to the victim that is substantially similar to a listed relationship” of the abducted child before issuing an Amber Alert.
To reach that conclusion, judges will have to sift through the escape clause written into the amendment:
The granting of these rights to any victim shall ensure the victim has a meaningful role throughout the criminal and juvenile justice systems and may not be construed to deny or disparage other rights possessed by victims [Amendment S, as printed 2015.08.11].
The language I bold above may save Amber Alerts… if we can establish that abducted children and/or their custodial parents have a constitutional right to an Amber Alert. Unfortunately, I don’t see Amber Alerts authorized in the state Bill of Rights, and I have difficulty believing that a constitutional amendment can subordinate itself to a statutory right—judges test laws against the constitution, not the constitution against laws.
Funny that our Republican legislators are exerting themselves in court to overturn IM 22 to protect their free lunches but aren’t making any litigious fuss over Amendment S to protect abducted children.