AFTER BILL DEFERRED, SUPPORTERS OF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT FOR VICTIMS’ RIGHTS ALREADY WORKING TOWARD PASSAGE NEXT SESSION
Crime Victims, Their Survivors and Supporters Remain Enthusiastic about Marsy’s Law
From MarsysLawForHawaii.org March 5, 2015
Honolulu, HI — The Senate Judiciary Committee today deferred action on Senate Bill 679, which would put a victims’ rights amendment to the Hawaii State Constitution on the ballot in the 2016 General Election. Supporters, energized by the strong backing they’ve received from the public and many legislators, are already working to build legislative and public support for the constitutional amendment in the 2016 legislative session. Those who testified for the measure were buoyed by the House and Senate Judiciary chairs’ commitment to work with supporters and stakeholders during the interim between sessions to craft a measure that could pass next session and be on the ballot for the General Election in 2016. The amendment would guarantee constitutional rights to crime victims and their families.
The Hawaii measure is modeled on victims’ rights constitutional amendments known as Marsy’s Law recently adopted in California and Illinois. Hawaii is one of only 18 states without constitutional protections for crime victims. The committee heard testimony in overwhelming support for a better balance between the rights of crime victims and the rights of offenders.
“We are amazed by the outpouring of support for Marsy’s Law for Hawaii from not only victims and their families, but from the public, law enforcement and legislators,” said Marci Lopes, executive director of Marsy’s Law for Hawaii. “We are pleased that the House and Senate Judiciary committees have decided to work on the bill through the summer months with all parties involved to resolve any questions that have been raised. We are excited to continue the momentum we’ve been building statewide for Marsy’s Law.”
“This is great news for Hawaii victims and their families,” said Cindy Hora, assistant attorney general for the state of Illinois. “The Office of the Illinois Attorney General strongly supported the passage of Marsy’s Law for Illinois. A constitutional amendment for victims’ rights in the state of Hawaii would guarantee certain basic rights to victims and their families, rights that could be enforced in the courts."
One of the rights listed in SB 679 is the right for victims and their families to receive notification of proceedings and major developments in their criminal case. Theresa Paulette testified, “My only son was killed by a six-time DUI arrestee. I didn't receive information after the crash, so I initiated calls to the police. I felt resistance every step of the way as I inquired about the status of the investigation and whether charges would be filed. It was agonizing waiting for the traffic accident investigation report, which took nearly a year. Then, the final decision was not to press charges. No accountability. No justice for my son.”
The constitutional amendment for victims’ rights (Marsy’s Law), if adopted, would guarantee the following basic rights to crime victims:
- The right to be treated with courtesy, fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice proceedings
- The right to receive information about their rights and the services available to crime victims
- The right to receive timely notification of proceedings and other major developments in their case
- The right to receive timely notification of changes to the offender’s custodial status
- The right to be present at court proceedings
- The right to provide input to the prosecutor before the plea agreement is finalized
- The right to be heard at plea or sentencing proceedings or any process that may result in the offender’s release
- The right to restitution
About Marsy’s Law for All Marsy’s Law for All is dedicated to the cause of ensuring that crime victims’ rights are codified in law throughout the United States. When it passed in California in November 2008, Proposition 9, The Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008: Marsy’s Law, became the strongest and most comprehensive constitutional victims’ rights law in the U.S. and put California at the forefront of the national victims’ rights movement. Marsy’s Law was also passed in Illinois in 2014.
Dr. Henry T. Nicholas, the co-founder of Broadcom Corp., is the key backer and proponent of Marsy’s Law. Dr. Nicholas is now lending his support to an effort to amend victims’ rights into the Hawaii State Constitution. Marsy's Law was named after Dr. Nicholas’ sister, Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas, a beautiful, vibrant University of California Santa Barbara student, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.
Only a week after Marsy was murdered, Dr. Nicholas’ and Marsy’s mother, Mrs. Marcella Leach, walked into a grocery store after visiting her daughter’s grave and was confronted by the accused murderer. She had no idea that he had been released on bail. She was not informed because the courts and law enforcement, though well meaning, had no obligation to keep her informed. While criminals have more than 20 individuals rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, the surviving family members of murder victims have none.
For more information and to read Marsy’s story, visit www.marsyslawforhawaii.org.
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SB679: Text, Status
HB1144: Text, Status