Volusia County sheriff to weigh in on ‘Marsy’s Law’ case

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood received approval Monday from the Florida Supreme Court to file a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that a 2018 constitutional amendment known as "Marsy’s Law" should not apply to law-enforcement officers. 

The approval came after the Supreme Court last week said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri could file a brief taking a similar position. The voter-approved Marsy’s Law amendment included a series of protections for crime victims. 

The briefs will address a Supreme Court case involving 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 a motion Monday seeking to file a brief, Chitwood said his department "makes a concerted effort to be transparent and accountable" and has released the names of deputies who have been involved in shootings. 

"VSO (the Volusia Sheriff’s Office) is interested in this appeal as it believes that the citizens should know the names of deputies who are involved in the use of deadly force while carrying out their official duties," the motion said. "This disclosure of the deputies' names not only promotes transparency and accountability but helps to rebuild the eroding public trust in law enforcement. VSO desires to continue disclosing the names of deputies who are involved in the use of deadly force while in the execution of their official duties in order to continue promoting transparency and accountability."

 The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, though it has not set a date for arguments.

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