top of page

States Like Wisconsin Withhold Names Of Police Who Shoot Suspects Through "Marsy's Law"

A recent incident in Oshkosh, Wisconsin involved a police officer shooting a 34-year-old suicidal man who had pointed a hunting rifle at them. The incident occurred just two blocks from the man's residence on June 29. The officer's identity and the names of others involved in the incident have not been disclosed to the public, a departure from the traditional transparency norms in Wisconsin law enforcement.

The withholding of information is attributed to Marsy's Law, a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2020 to protect victims' privacy rights, including those of police. This practice of concealing identities in police shootings is part of a national trend seen in over a dozen states, raising concerns among civil liberties advocates who argue that it diminishes police accountability.

Marsy's Law has created uncertainty in its application as cops and prosecutors grapple with interpreting its provisions. Some believe it allows police departments to curtail transparency and accountability, hindering public oversight and discipline in cases of officer misconduct. Voters have approved Marsy's Law in ballot measures in at least 14 states. However, it has been overturned in Montana and Pennsylvania over questions of its conflict with the U.S. Constitution.

The movement to adopt the constitutional amendment was self-funded by tech billionaire Henry Nicholas III. The Law is named after his sister who was killed by an ex-boyfriend in the early 1980s.

In 2020, Wisconsin joined the ranks of states incorporating this Law into its constitution following an intensive lobbying campaign, backed by a substantial budget of $1.5 million and employing five registered lobbyists at one juncture. Marsy's Law for Wisconsin, entirely funded by Nicholas' nationwide organization, allocated nearly $4.5 million to persuade voters to endorse the constitutional amendment.

Marsy's Law has received voter approval through ballot measures in a minimum of 14 states. However, it has faced legal challenges resulting in its overturning in Montana and Pennsylvania due to concerns regarding its compatibility with the U.S. Constitution.


bottom of page