(Juneau) The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office has been exercising an abundance of caution when it comes to publicly releasing the names of victims. Sheriff Dale Schmidt says after “careful consultation” with the county’s legal office the decision was made to no longer release the names of victims without the consent of the victim or their family. The reason is because of Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment approved by the legislature and voters that was implemented last year. Under Marcy’s Law, crime victims must be given the same protections as the accused. The decision to withhold the names of victims has been in practice in Dodge County for months for motor vehicle accidents and robberies but was referenced again in a press release the sheriff issued Wednesday about this weekend’s murder-suicide in Watertown. Schmidt wrote that while his office is investigating because of a conflict of interest with Watertown Police, there is no new information to release including the names of those involved.
Not all agencies are interpreting Marcy’s Law the same way and the names of those involved in the Watertown murder-suicide have been widely reported. Schmidt explained yesterday on WBEV’s Community Comment that the county is waiting on clarification from the state attorney general.
Dodge County Corporation Counsel is advising that Marcy’s Law, which is a constitutional amendment, supersedes Chapter 19 of the Open Records in state statute.