Oversight board opposes ‘Marsy’s Law’ for police

A Miami police-oversight board Wednesday urged the Florida Supreme Court to reject arguments that a 2018 constitutional amendment known as "Marsy’s Law" applies to law-enforcement officers. 

The Civilian Investigative Panel, which probes police misconduct in Miami, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a Supreme Court case that has revealed divisions among law-enforcement agencies. 

Marsy’s Law included a series of protections for crime victims, and the case involves two Tallahassee police officers who invoked the law to prevent their identities from being released after use-of-force shooting incidents in which they were threatened. The officers argued they were victims in the incidents. 

The 1st District Court of Appeal last year agreed with the officers, leading the city of Tallahassee to take the case to the Supreme Court. In the brief Wednesday, lawyers for the Miami police-oversight panel wrote that the appeals court "failed to interpret key provisions of Marsy’s Law in context" and that the ruling should be overturned. 

"Allowing police officers, whose sworn duty as public servants is to investigate and respond to crimes, to don the robe of ‘victim’ under Marsy’s Law and prevent the public from learning of their involvement in incidents occurring while performing public duties, upends the constitutional provision," the brief said. "It also utterly defeats any transparency and potentially renders civilian oversight a nullity." 

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Volusia County Sheriff Michael Chitwood have taken similar positions, while the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office contends Marsy’s Law should apply to law-enforcement officers. The Supreme Court has said it will decide the case but has not scheduled arguments.

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