ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Jackley: State, local agencies may release names of crash victims

PIERRE, S.D. -- State and local law enforcement officials will be able to release the names of vehicle crash victims and street addresses where crimes occur despite the passage last month of Marsy's Law, according to South Dakota Attorney General...

PIERRE, S.D. - State and local law enforcement officials will be able to release the names of vehicle crash victims and street addresses where crimes occur despite the passage last month of Marsy’s Law, according to South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley.

Since South Dakota voters passed Constitutional Amendment S - a victim’s rights amendment known as Marsy’s Law - on Election Day, law enforcement agencies have been hesitant to release information about victims in vehicle crashes. But Jackley issued an opinion Monday that said state and local entities may release motor vehicle crash reports, and names of victims and street addresses where crimes have occurred.

The issue was also of concern in North Dakota where the law also passed last month, although no steps had been taken by law enforcement agencies so far.

“While there is more work being done, this opinion is intended to help victims and those assisting victims in carrying out our new law,” said Jackley. “I would like to thank the individual Task Force members for their willingness to serve and for their assistance on these issues that have affected law enforcement and the public statewide.”

Jackley’s opinion came shortly after a task force made up of victim’s rights advocates, law enforcement agencies and the media met to determine how the amendment should be interpreted. Before Jackley’s opinion was issued, agencies like the South Dakota Department of Public Safety decided against revealing information about victims.

ADVERTISEMENT

Prior to Jackley’s statement Monday, the Department of Public Safety was attaching a note to each of its crash reports. The note said, “Due to the enactment of Amendment S, known as Marsy’s Law, the release of names in fatal or injury-related vehicle crashes is suspended until further notice.”

Marsy’s Law offers 19 separate rights to victims of crimes, including the right to be free from intimidation, harassment and abuse, the right to be reasonably protected from the accused and the right to privacy. But Jackley said the language of Amendment S doesn’t restrict agencies from releasing certain information.

“In conclusion, based on the principles of constitutional construction and the language of the Amendment, it is my opinion that state and local governments may release in the course of their duties motor vehicle crash reports, street addresses where crimes have occurred, the names of victims in crime report logs, and the law enforcement radio traffic without violating Article VI, § 29, as set forth in this opinion,” Jackley said.

Victims will still have the opportunity to invoke or exercise their rights and receive protections, but Jackley wrote that it is “neither unlimited nor automatic.” Jackley said a victim must invoke their rights to prevent the disclosure of records or information.

Related Topics: CRASHES
What To Read Next
Navigator CO2 Ventures is hoping to streamline the application process in Illinois as they add an additional pipeline to the mix.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol is investigating the Wednesday, Jan. 25, crash.
Testimony to the top House committee from a convicted attendee of the Jan. 6 rally focused on the "inhumane" treatment of Jan. 6 defendants. The committee rejected a resolution on the matter 12-0.
Rep. Fred Deutsch, an opponent of last year's failed cannabis ballot measure, introduced a proposal to disallow consecutive attempts at statewide referenda. A House committee rejected the bill 10-2.