Nessel files amicus brief to protect personal information of witnesses in prosecutions

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has filed an amicus brief to protect the personal information of victims and witnesses in prosecutions.   

The amicus brief was filed in the case: People of the State of Michigan v. Ricky Dale Jack.

On March 11, 2021, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a decision that said a prosecutor must provide the addresses of victims and witnesses when turning over discovery under the Michigan Court Rules.

The Court of Appeals ruled that if the prosecution seeks to shield that information, it must obtain a protective order. 

“Protecting the victims of crimes is part of our duty as law enforcement. Victims and witnesses deserve the assurance that the system will protect their privacy to ensure they do not become targets of retribution. Removing that protection as standard prosecutorial practice jeopardizes law enforcement’s ability to work with victims to bring criminals to justice.” 

Attorney General Dana Nessel

The Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004 established, among other things, that a victim has the right to be reasonably protected from the accused. 

The attorney general’s office said the law also established that a victim has a right to be treated with respect for his or her dignity and privacy.  

The issue of protection from disclosure of the personal information of victims of crime – as well as witnesses more generally – is a matter of critical importance for the law enforcement community.   

Victims of crime are often reluctant to come forward and identify their assailants.

The attorney general’s office said often, they fear reprisals from the perpetrator, and one way to reassure victims that they need not be afraid of retaliation is by shielding their contact and identifying information from disclosure.

The same is true of witnesses who may be subject to reprisals and intimidation, which Michigan law prohibits, the attorney general’s office said.

The Attorney General’s Office filed its amicus brief in support of the Ingham County Prosecutor’s emergency application as presented under the Michigan Court Rules on March 25.  

A copy of the brief is available here. 

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