More than 80 percent of voters approve Marsy’s Law, named for a woman who was killed by her ex-boyfriend. Constitutional amendment requires crime victims to be notified of offenders’ prison releases. Legal organizations opposed the measure.
Ohio crime victims will have rights enshrined in the state constitution for the first time, as voters overwhelmingly approved State Issue 1 on Tuesday, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Professional organizations for lawyers objected to the constitutional amendment. Still, the issue’s chief backer said he wants to add the same amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “I think this is a huge milestone along the way,” said Ohio native Henry Nicholas, the California-based sponsor of the issue. The Ohio issue, known as Marsy’s Law, was winning by 83 percent with more than 95 percent of Ohio’s precincts reporting.
The amendment requires that victims of crimes be notified of important hearings in criminal cases and of such actions as prison releases. It also gives alleged victims standing to intervene in criminal cases to try to protect what they see as their interests. Nicholas, the billionaire founder of tech giant Broadcom, is the brother of Marsy Nicholas, who was murdered in 1983 by her ex-boyfriend. Only a week after the slaying, Henry Nicholas and his mother ran into the killer in a grocery store; he had been released from jail unbeknownst to them. If Marsy’s Law had been in effect in California at the time, her family would have known that her attacker was free on bail. Ohio Public Defender Tim Young said, “This was a mistake for us to put this in the constitution.” Young said the measure “makes a false comparison between a victim’s rights and a defendant’s rights,” explaining that defendants’ rights are in the U.S. Constitution.