City of Tallahassee encourages Florida Supreme Court to decide Marsy’s Law debate

Florida Supreme Court building
Florida Supreme Court building
Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 2:46 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The City of Tallahassee has filed new briefs asking the Florida Supreme Court to decide whether Marsy’s Law can be used to shield the identities of police officers who use deadly force in the line of duty.

Both the City of Tallahassee and a coalition of media outlets filed briefs in the case late Monday.

The City of Tallahassee sought review after an appeals court sided with the Police Benevolent Association, who argued on-duty officers were entitled to the same protections under Marsy’s Law as other victims of crime.

The PBA filed that suit to try to keep the identities of officers from being made public after two deadly officer-involved shootings in May 2020.

A Tallahassee Police officer shot Wilbon Woodard after he brandished a knife in front of a restaurant on North Monroe Street. Another TPD officer shot and killed Tony McDade just days later on Holton Street after the stabbing suspect pointed a gun at him. Neither officer’s name has been made public.

The Circuit Court ruled that officers were not protected under Marsy’s Law, but the First District Court of Appeals reversed that decision.

Attorneys for the City of Tallahassee are asking the Florida Supreme Court to answer three critical questions:

  1. Whether a law enforcement officer who is threatened with harm in the course and scope of official duty is a “crime victim” under “Marsy’s Law.”
  2. Whether the Constitutional Amendment requires a triggering event—the commencement of a criminal proceeding—before a “crime victim” is entitled to the protections of Marsy’s Law.
  3. Whether Marsy’s Law provides a constitutional right of anonymity to law enforcement officers who are threatened with harm in the course and scope of duty.

The News Media Coalition asked the Florida Supreme Court to review the case “to reaffirm the proper balancing between core government accountability information with the rights afforded under Marsy’s Law. If the district court’s decision stands, whenever faced with a threat of any kind while on-duty law enforcement officers will be emboldened to claim “victim” status to shield their actions from public review.”

The City of Tallahassee and the News Media Coalition have asked the state’s highest court to hold oral arguments in the case.

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