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A new Marsy’s Law case is prompting media groups to seek answers from the Florida Supreme Court

Patrick Sternad
WFSU Public Media

It's based on a case out of Boynton Beach. A Tallahassee case now before the court asks whether law enforcement officers can have their identities shielded when they’re threatened by suspects.

A recent case out of Boynton Beach is calling new attention to Marsy’s Law, Florida’s 2018 law designed to boost and protect crime victims’ rights.

A 13-year-old boy on a dirt bike was killed the day after Christmas as police tried to pull him over for riding recklessly. Now, the Boynton Beach police officer who attempted the traffic stop is seeking to have his identity withheld.

“The law enforcement officer in that case is claiming he's a victim under Marsy's Law,” says First Amendment Foundation Executive Director Pamela Marsh. “Yet in that case, there was no aggression from the young boy. There was no violence from the boy towards the law enforcement officer.”

Marsh says various media groups and law enforcement organizations are in the process of filing briefs with the Florida Supreme Court seeking clarity around Marsy’s Law. A Tallahassee case now before the court asks whether law enforcement officers can have their identities shielded when they’re threatened by suspects.

“Tony McDade was killed in a violent encounter with the police. The City of Tallahassee wanted to release the records because the public was very interested in the story,” Marsh says. “The Police Benevolent Association, the police union, was opposed to releasing the records. They claimed that the identities of the law enforcement officers were protected under Marsy's Law because the law enforcement officers were victims of a violent assault by Tony McDade.”

A circuit court judge ruled that the officers’ identities should not be protected, but the ruling was overturned by an appellate court. Now, the Florida Supreme Court is being asked to answer questions surrounding how Marsy’s Law should be applied.

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Gina Jordan is the host of Morning Edition for WFSU News. Gina is a Tallahassee native and graduate of Florida State University. She spent 15 years working in news/talk and country radio in Orlando before becoming a reporter and All Things Considered host for WFSU in 2008. She left after a few years to spend more time with her son, working part-time as the capital reporter/producer for WLRN Public Media in Miami and as a drama teacher at Young Actors Theatre. She also blogged and reported for StateImpact Florida, an NPR education project, and produced podcasts and articles for AVISIAN Publishing. Gina has won awards for features, breaking news coverage, and newscasts from contests including the Associated Press, Green Eyeshade, and Murrow Awards. Gina is on the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors. Gina is thrilled to be back at WFSU! In her free time, she likes to read, travel, and watch her son play football. Follow Gina Jordan on Twitter: @hearyourthought
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