Last Friday (May 13), The Forum printed a column from Jim Fuglie, a political blogger. It was breathtaking in its falsehoods. Either Fuglie just didn't bother to do the research needed to write a truthful column or he knowingly mislead readers. Either way, there is no excuse for the misinformation he advanced about Marsy's Law for North Dakota and my volunteer role in this effort.
I'm writing to set the record straight.
Fuglie's most outrageous statement is that I have been paid a million dollars to spearhead Marsy's Law. Let me be clear: I do not know Dr. Nicholas. I have never met nor spoken to him. And he has not given me, personally, a million dollars, or $1, a fact the Forum's real journalists reported accurately.
Marsy's Law began after Dr. Nicholas's sister, Marsy, was stalked and brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend. He was later let out of prison on bail, without notification of the victim's family. Nicholas and his mother came face-to-face with the accused murderer in a grocery store the week after Marsy's death. Can you imagine that horror?
Nicholas, a successful technology businessman, set up a private foundation, which he alone funds, to help get victims' fundamental protections in state constitutions so others can avoid a fate similar to what his family suffered. Any attempts by Marsy's Law opponents to inject Dr. Nicholas' personal life into this debate is done only to distract voters from the real issues victims in this state face.
Our North Dakota team wrote Marsy's Law for North Dakota with input from statewide attorneys and law enforcement personnel. It will not and cannot diminish the rights of the accused criminal defendants.
I have called several opponents and in our conversations they've admitted they haven't even read our proposed law. Defense attorneys have even gone so far as to say they are offended by this and that they already do enough for victims. Seriously?
I ask these opponents to look into the eyes of the Perleberg family, whose son and brother was murdered at a wedding reception, or tell Mrs. Melby, whose daughter was raped and sexually assaulted in Minot, that the hurdles they've had in the system are no big deal. Or, try to convince the four-year-old child pornography victim's parents that their child isn't part of the system.
We are better than this. Marsy's Law for North Dakota upholds the values and standards we hold dear. Fuglie's article diminishes those values, and diverts the reader's attention from the real issues and what Marsy's Law does.
It gives crime victims:
- The right to be notified of all proceedings.
- The right to be heard in any proceeding involving release, plea, sentencing, adjudication, disposition or parole, and any proceeding during which a right of the victims is implicated.
- The right to be free from intimidation and harassment.
- The right to restitution.
- And, by putting these rights into the state constitution, it will give legal standing to victims and defendants equally.
Don't let opponents, like Fuglie, politicize Marsy's Law for North Dakota. This campaign is non-partisan. Our volunteer sponsoring committee is made up of Independents, Democrats and Republicans, all North Dakotans. Our state is one of only 18 states that don't have this level of protection for crime victims.
It's an honor to volunteer my time to advance this cause because I believe it's an important step forward to improve the way crime victims in North Dakota are treated in our criminal justice system. I will not be deterred, nor bullied into silence.
Wrigley, Bismarck, is unpaid chairwoman for Marsy’s Law for North Dakota