Missoula County Will Keep Two Marsy’s Law Victims Advocates
Despite the fact that the Montana Supreme Court found the recently enacted Marsy's Law unconstitutional, the Missoula County Attorney's office will keep two victims advocates hired specifically to comply with the law on the payroll.
County Attorney Kirsten Pabst explained why the law was overruled by the Montana Supreme Court.
""It was a flawed initiative process," Pabst said. "It violated what they call the 'single vote rule' which means that if you're going to change one part of the constitution through an initiative process, you have to do each part in a separate vote. What they held was that Marsy's Law affected the confrontation clause, the due process clause as well as the privacy clause and so in a sense they invalidated the whole thing."
Pabst said her office hired two full-time victim witness coordinators last summer with combined salaries of just under $100,000 per year.
"The results that we've seen have been really incredible," she said. "We have a better service to victims, a better service to the community, and with three full-time victim witness coordinators they have as a result of their good work, now created a healthier, more vibrant and responsive system, and we're going to do everything we can to keep that in place."
The two new victim witness coordinators are Cheryl Patch and Cathy Blackbird.
Chief Financial Officer for the county Andrew Czorny told KGVO News that the funds to hire the two victim witness coordinators had been approved in the budget last summer, and their salaries are fully funded for the year, however, the County Commissioners will have the final say on whether the funding for the two positions will remain.
Proponents of Marsy's Law say they will seek a remedy for the initiative.