Ohio Voting on ‘Marsy’s Law’ to Protect Crime Victims

Prosecutors and other legal groups oppose the proposed constitutional amendment, saying it would be difficult to amend if it proves unworkable.

People on both sides of Ohio Issue 1, on Tuesday’s ballot, say they are deeply concerned with victims rights, but some of those who are opposed question its workability and even its necessity, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Also known as Marsy’s Law, Issue 1 would amend the Ohio Constitution to enshrine rights for crime victims. The amendment would require that victims be notified of important hearings in criminal cases and prison releases. It would give alleged victims standing to intervene in criminal cases to try to protect what they see as their interests. It would seek to protect their privacy. Marsy’s Law is named for Marsy Nicholas, who in 1983 was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in California. Unbeknownst to her parents, the killer was released on bail and her parents ran into him in a store.

The effort to change state constitutions in Ohio and elsewhere is bankrolled by Marsy’s brother, California tech billionaire Henry Nicholas, who was born near Cincinnati. His team insists that the amendment is meant merely to level the playing field for crime victims. “Criminals get way more constitutional protections than crime victims do,” said Gail Gitcho, spokeswoman for the effort. While victims’ rights are an easy sell politically, criminal cases don’t pit the rights of the accused against those of an alleged victim, said Ohio Public Defender Tim Young. Issue 1 has gathered the support of some officials, like Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, but the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the Ohio State Bar Association and the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys oppose it. One concern is that the state Constitution isn’t the appropriate place for the protections. If problems arise with their workability, it would be exceedingly difficult to fix them by amending the Constitution, said Louis Tobin of the prosecutor group.

from https://thecrimereport.org