The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office is using Marsy’s Law to keep the public from learning which of its deputies shot and killed 19-year-old Matthew John Lorenzen:
“The deputy is invoking his protections under Marsy’s Law,” said the office’s spokeswoman, Helene Duhamel. “The new constitutional amendment affords him protections as it does any victim of crime.”
Previously, Marsy’s Law was used to withhold a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper’s name after the trooper was allegedly attacked before shooting and wounding a suspect during a September incident in Union County [Seth Tupper, “Marsy’s Law Shields Name of Deputy Who Shot Suspect,” Rapid City Journal, 2018.12.07].
“Marsy’s Law,” California billionaire Henry T. Nicholas’s vanity project to write his poor dead sister’s name into everybody’s constitutions, gives South Dakota crime victims “The right, upon request, to prevent the disclosure to the public, or the defendant or anyone acting on behalf of the defendant in the criminal case, of information or records that could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim’s family, or which could disclose confidential or privileged information about the victim, and to be notified of any request for such information or records.”
I am dubious about the application of this constitutional provision to on-duty law enforcement personnel. As we argued in our discussion of the right of county officials to refuse to provide marriage licenses, constitutional rights apply to individuals acting as private citizens, not to public employees acting in their official capacity. Jason Ravnsborg did not have a First Amendment right to make campaign speeches while on duty in the Army Reserve. Former DPS chief Trevor Jones did not have a right to invite Ravnsborg to hold a campaign rally in the middle of an official Highway Patrol function.
When an officer is carrying a gun for the public, and when the officer uses that gun to kill one of us, the officer is not acting as an individual; the officer is using the power we have granted him to use deadly force to protect us. We, the sole source of that power, have a right to know who used that force on our behalf.