Florida Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to ‘Marsy’s Law’ Over Tallahassee Shootings

Florida Supreme Court Building


The Florida Supreme Court is set to take up a legal battle regarding “Marsy’s Law,” which is a 2018 constitutional amendment passed by voters that shields the identities of victims of crimes. An official date has not yet been set.

The city of Tallahassee and several news organizations are appealing a decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal backing the law and protecting the identities of Tallahassee police officers when they utilized use-of-force in more than one shooting incident. The law enforcement officers maintain they were the victims and felt compelled to use deadly force.

Luke Newman, an attorney for the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), explained the implementation of Marsy’s Law for the officers.

“Marsy’s Law allows for somebody who has been victimized, beginning at the time of his or her victimization, to prevent the disclosure of information that could lead to their identity being revealed or their being subject to other forms of harassment,” said Newman. “They were both victims of aggravated assault, one with a deadly weapon and one with a firearm,”

One of the officers mentioned, shot a black transgender man, born a biological woman named Natosha McDade, after McDade attacked the officer. The officer became a victim of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. McDade previously served a five year prison sentence for armed robbery and violated parole for being caught with drugs and guns.

At the time of the shooting in the summer of 2020, Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell defended the actions of the officer.

“I don’t believe in these cases that our officers have acted inappropriately,” Revell said. “But that will be up to a grand jury to decide.”

One of the groups seeking to have the identities of the officers publicly disclosed, the First Amendment Foundation (FAF), said protecting the identities of the officers does not add to accountability.

“They’ve taken on this job to protect and serve and that means when something goes wrong, there needs to be transparency,” said FAF Executive Director Pam Marsh.

Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith said in 2020 that the shooting involving McDade was racially motivated and that the officer blatantly opened fire.

“The issue really comes down to this: Did the police seek to apprehend someone, or did they simply open fire because they concluded that Tony’s life didn’t matter?” Smith said.

Newman maintains his clients are protected by the “plain language” of the Florida Constitution.

“My clients are people as well and so that’s who’s covered by the language of the Florida Constitution, and they’re asserting their right to be covered by that plain language,” said Newman.

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at The Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Florida Supreme Court” by Bruin79. CC BY-SA 3.0.




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