March 30, 2021
LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has filed an amicus brief in People of the State of Michigan v. Ricky Dale Jack, in support of the People's emergency application before the Michigan Supreme Court to protect the personal information of victims and witnesses in prosecutions.
On March 11, 2021, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a decision that holds that 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," said Nessel. "Removing that protection as standard prosecutorial practice jeopardizes law enforcement's ability to work with victims to bring criminals to justice."
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 law also established that a victim has a right to be treated with respect for his or her dignity and privacy. The issue of protecting from disclosure 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. 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 filed its amicus brief in support of the Ingham County Prosecutor's emergency application as presented under the Michigan Court Rules on March 25.