Ohio voters have been inundated with mailings and commercials for State Issue 2, which deals with pharmaceutical prices. However, there is a second state ballot issue this year, one which centers around clarifying and enshrining the rights of crime victims in Ohio’s Constitution.
State Issue 1, also known as Marsy’s Law, seeks to amend Article I, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution to outline a Crime Victim Bill of Rights. The amendment would give crime victims the following rights:
• To fair and respectful treatment for the victim’s safety, dignity and privacy.
• Upon request, to notice of, and the right to be present at, all public proceedings involving the criminal or delinquent conduct against the victim.
• To be heard in any public proceeding involving release, plea, sentencing, disposition, or parole, or in which the victim’s rights are implicated.
• To reasonable protection from the accused or person acting on behalf of the accused.
• Upon request, to reasonable notice of any release or escape of the accused.
• To refuse discovery requests made by the accused, except as authorized by Article I, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution.
• To full and timely restitution from the criminal or juvenile offender.
• To proceedings without unreasonable delay and a prompt conclusion of the case.
• Upon request, to confer with the government’s attorney.
• To written notice of all rights in the amendment.
Paula Roller, executive director of Turning Point domestic violence shelter, is a vocal proponent of Marsy’s Law.
“As the head of an organization focused on protecting and empowering women and families affected by domestic violence, I see every day the heart-breaking impact that criminals have on crime victims,” Roller said. “For too long in Ohio, the domestic violence survivors and families we serve have suffered in a judicial system that doesn’t allow them a voice.”
Roller said if Marsy’s Law is approved by on Nov. 7, “that can all change” in Ohio.
“Under Marsy’s Law, crime victims will get notification of every step in the process, the right to participate by making statements in court, and input into plea bargains as well as financial restitution when appropriate,” Roller said. “Most importantly, State Issue 1 will give crime victims the right to ask a judge to enforce their rights if they feel they are being violated.This vital enforcement mechanism has been sorely lacking in Ohio and has left domestic violence survivors silenced.”
Both the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police and the Buckeye Sheriff’s Association — including Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin — have expressed support for Issue 1.
“Our officers work every day to keep the streets safe and help crime victims every chance we get,” said Ohio FOP President Jay McDonald. “Crime victims should have equal rights to those of the criminals who prey on them, and it’s time Ohioans made that clear by voting to put it in the state constitution.”
Gov. John Kasich, Attorney General Mike DeWine, and Auditor of State Dave Yost have each endorsed Marsy’s Law.
This issue is not without its detractors, however, with prosecutors and defense attorneys voicing concerns over the effect this issue could have on due process.
“Issue 1 amends Ohio’s Constitution to give victims the right to refuse to turn over potential evidence and to petition the court of appeals,” according to Ohio Public Defender Tim Young in his official argument against the issue as filed with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office. “Issue 1 conflicts with essential guarantees in the Bill of Rights, including double jeopardy, confrontation and speedy trial — rights fundamental to our Founders.”
Calls made to members of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers seeking comment were not returned.
Contact Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390. Follow him on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.
Contact Andrew Carter at 740-413-0900. Follow him on Twitter @DelOhioEditor.