Voters in six states soon will face a ballot initiative that for some seems like a no-brainer — whether to grant crime victims certain rights under the state constitution, such as the right to be treated with fairness, the right to confer with the prosecution and the right to attend key court proceedings.
But even as a billionaire-backed campaign spreads across the country, some lawyers and civil rights experts say the push to give crime victims rights equal to those of criminal defendants could set up a clash over core aspects of the legal system, such as the accused person’s right to due process and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Since 2008, voters have approved “Marsy’s Law” amendments in California, Illinois, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Montana (Montana’s amendment later was struck down on procedural grounds). This year, voters in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina and Oklahoma will consider versions of it.
Proposals in the Iowa Legislature earlier this year drew bipartisan support at the committee level, but did not get called up for a floor vote.
Some lawmakers noted that many of the provisions already are in state law and others questioned whether the amendment would add substantial costs to an already financially strained judicial system.
The proposed amendment received support from Gov. Kim Reynolds, who joined a campaign to press for it. State Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, ran the bill in the Iowa House.
Read the full story at The Gazette