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Attorney General forms group to look at Marsy's Law issues

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Attorney General Marty Jackley is forming a task force to work on interpreting a new crime victims' rights constitutional amendment and address issues caused by its implementation, he said Wednesday.

The group will help offer guidance for putting the Marsy's Law amendment into effect, Jackley said. The measure establishes rights for victims, including privacy, protection from harassment or abuse and timely notice of trial, sentencing and post-judgment proceedings. The rights also extend to a victim's spouse and family members.

Sioux Falls defense attorneys say people are facing longer jail stays because of delays spurred by the measure. The Argus Leader reported that the Marsy's Law amendment is forcing court hearings to be rescheduled until victims can be notified under the measure's new requirements.

It has also caused some law enforcement agencies to limit information provided to the public about crimes in South Dakota, including Sioux Falls police, who said this week they won't give out the exact locations of crimes or identify the names of victimized businesses. Rapid City police say they'll be using generalized addresses for additional crimes in public logs, and state officials have said they won't release the names of people involved in car crashes that result in injury or death.

The task force will offer input about the amendment's implementation, and the group's work could result in proposed legislation or an opinion from his office to help give clarity, Jackley said. The group will be comprised of law enforcement, victim representatives, county and municipal officials, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judicial system members and the sponsors of Marsy's Law.

Such a task force perhaps should have been convened before the election, because amendment foes sounded the alarm over problems with the amendment during the campaign, said opponent Ryan Kolbeck, president of the South Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

"There's no doubt that these issues were all raised among lawyers," Kolbeck said. "We knew about them. We did our best to educate the public, but obviously it wasn't enough."

Marsy's Law for South Dakota Chairman Jason Glodt said the task force is a good step toward resolving issues, noting that government agencies have been "very cautious" in interpreting the amendment.

Voters in Montana and the Dakotas approved Marsy's Law earlier this month, joining California and Illinois. The amendment is named for California college student Marsalee "Marsy" Nicholas, who was stalked and killed in 1983 by an ex-boyfriend. Her brother, Henry Nicholas, bankrolled the effort to expand it to more states.