Marsy’s Law helps Wisconsin crime victims

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — Tragedy struck Maeghan Thiessen-Greeno’s family three years ago when her father was hit by a truck while riding his motorcycle.

The truck driver was later found guilty of intentional homicide and not guilty by mental disease or defect.

Because of the verdict, while Maeghan was mourning her loss, she also had to deal with a heartbreaking two-year journey as the man who killed her father was charged for her father’s death.

“I would say that I was involuntarily forced into running through the court process during a tragic event that took place about three years ago with the loss of my father. And that’s obviously, you know, like a traumatic, stressful situation to be going through,” she said.

The process was heartbreaking for her family. But Maeghan said she did benefit from a 2020 Wisconsin constitutional amendment called “Marsy’s Law”—which provides constitutional protection for the victims of crimes.

“When we talk about creating a more compassionate justice system for everyone, that includes all of us…and victims have such an important role in that process,” Nela Kalpic, State Director of Marsy’s for Wisconsin, said.

Kalpic emphasized the need for victims to be heard during court proceedings and treated with respect during what can be a traumatic experience.

“One of the benefits, or at least silver linings, of going through the processes that I really felt supported, whether that be through just Marsy’s Law or the victims’ rights or just because the people that I was working with genuinely cared,” Maeghan said. “But being able to have access to ask questions and understand the court process and feel like you have rights and a voice.”

Fond du Lac District Attorney Eric Toney said that in his experience as a prosecutor, Marsy’s Law was a step forward for victims.

“I can’t emphasize enough how I think that just makes a difference for people to know they’re exercising their right and that we’re here to help them do that,” Toney said.

One of those rights is to be notified of specific public proceedings throughout the criminal justice process and be present and heard during those proceedings.

“I think it really takes away that very empty, alone feeling and makes you feel like they are there to help you,” Maeghan said.

Meaghan also invoked another Marsy’s Law right—the right to proceed free from reasonable delay.

“Being able to, like, speak up and say like, ‘I need someone to figure out a 10-day window to make this happen, where we don’t just keep pushing it out,’ really, really helped through that process,” Maeghan said.

Kalpic said in her work, this amendment comes down to respect and support.

“It is important to support victims always because justice is not served until victims of crime are served because they have not asked to be there. They’re just thrown into the system through no fault of their own,” Kalpic said.

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