A push to strengthen crime victims’ rights will appear before our readers as Issue 1 on the Nov. 7 ballot.
Marsy’s Law, as it is widely known, is named for a California college student who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. California, Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana have adopted provisions outlining the rights of victims during the judicial process.
In Ohio, those rights would take the form of a constitutional amendment.
If adopted by sufficient “yes” votes, the change would guarantee a right to privacy (which has not been defined), right to information about services available to victims, timely notifications of all proceedings in a criminal case, the right to be present and heard at all court proceedings, the right to refuse discovery requests by the accused, notification if the accused escapes incarceration, restitution, and input into plea bargains.
“The rights of crime victims are too important to be allowed to fall through the cracks in the criminal justice system,” said Franklin County sheriff Dallas Baldwin at a kick-off event for the Marsy’s Law campaign earlier this year. “I have long believed that the rights of crime victims should be respected just as much as the rights of the accused. Marsy’s Law for Ohio is a much-needed change to Ohio’s constitution.”
The campaign is supported by Parents Of Murdered Children Inc. and the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association.
But opponents, such as public defender Tim Young, who wrote the official opposition to Issue 1 filed with the Ohio Ballot Board, say the proposed measure conflicts with the Bill of Rights.
The ACLU of Ohio issued a statement against Issue 1, saying it “threatens the fundamental rights of the accused in the criminal justice system” and would “erode important due process protections, including prevention of the accused from obtaining evidence and allowing victims to interject at all stages of a trial.”
“Our legal system has a responsibility to uphold the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ and if passed this law will fundamentally change the nature of criminal proceedings,” said Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the ACLU of Ohio.
Marsy’s Law would allow victims to refuse interviews, depositions, or other discovery requests made on behalf of the accused.