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Courthouse display raises awareness for victims' rights

Marcy's Law display in Fond du Lac County Courthouse
Posted at 11:42 PM, Jan 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-18 00:42:06-05

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — Red silhouettes in the lobby of the Fond du Lac County Courthouse aim to remind passersby that victims of crimes walk among us every day. They each display a right of crime victims guaranteed by a 2020 state constitutional amendment.

The amendment—called Marcy’s Law—is named after Marsalee Ann Nicholas, a University of California Santa Barbara student who was killed by an ex-boyfriend in 1983.

According to the organization’s website, her family was not notified that her killer was released on bail and encountered him in a grocery store. This led to an initiative to ensure victims and their families are able to be active participants in the judicial system.

“One of the goals of this event is to humanize this protest right and remind people that there are so many caring individuals working here that are in their corner,” Nela Kalpic, State Director for Marcy’s Law Wisconsin, said.

The display is a collaboration with Marcy’s Law Wisconsin, the Fond du Lac County District Attorney’s Office and ASTOP, an organization supporting victims of sexual assault.

One of the many rights secured by the 2020 amendment is the right to “proceedings free from unreasonable delay.”

“A victim can invoke that right to say I want this trial to be done. I want it to be over with and want to move past this court process,” said Fond du Lac District Attorney Eric Toney.

Another is the right to privacy.

“No one chooses to be the victim of a crime and many of those crime victims and survivors don't want their name or information out in the public,” Toney said.

Toney said the District Attorney’s office addresses this by ensuring that criminal complaints list witnesses as “Witness 1” or “Witness 2” instead of using their names.

The silhouettes feature a QR code that when scanned, provides additional information on victims’ rights.

Kalpic said the display will travel to other county courthouses across the state.

“The goal of Marcy's Law, really to ensure that victims have to encourage participation for victims and really to make sure that victims now have a stronger voice throughout that process,” Kalpic said.

Meet Margaret Cahill: NBC 26's reporter in Fond du Lac!

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Margaret Cahill

1:39 PM, Jul 22, 2022
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