Voters across the state voted to pass state Issue 1 on Tuesday night. In keeping with the state, Scioto County supported the legislation, earning 10849 votes (81.90%).
State Issue 1 is the Equal Rights for Crime Victims amendment to the Ohio Constitution that has become known as Marsy’s Law.
According to Marsyslaw.com, Marsy’s Law is designed to offer victims of crimes the same rights as those who commit crimes. The law is named after Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas who was killed by her ex-boyfriend. Marsy’s Law is backed by Nicholas’ brother Dr. Henry T. Nicholas, who first starting fighting for the law after not being notified that his sister’s killer was released on bail.
In addition to Ohio, there have been efforts to pass the law in Kentucky, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Idaho, Oklahoma and Maine.
According to the Ohio Secretary of State (SOS), advocates of Marsy’s Law in Ohio argued that the law would ensure protection for crime victims and families by ensuring victims are notified of each step of the legal process; giving victims and their families the right to be present in the courtroom and to have a voice throughout the process (including making recommendations regarding plea bargains and financial restitution). Victims and their families would also be guaranteed the right to fight in court if the their rights were not protected.
Opponents of passage of Marsy’s Law in Ohio argued that Ohio does not have a need for such legislation.
“Ohio law affords victims extensive rights. Issue 1, known as Marsy’s Law, originated in California. One week after a young woman was killed, her mother was confronted by the accused murderer in a store. She didn’t know he’d been released on bail. Ohio does not have this problem. Ohio law requires prosecutors to notify victims when a defendant is arrested or eligible for pretrial release,” Ohio Public Defender Tim Young stated in the official argument against Issue 1 as filed with the Ohio SOS.
The argument against Issue 1 further stated that Ohio implemented a victim notification system that offers information for victims 24 hours a day. The system was enacted in 1998.
The argument against Marsy’s Law further stated that the legislation is not needed in Ohio because prosecutors are required to protect the rights of victims and afford victims additional resources through victims services programs.
“Issue 1 does not provide additional resources and the government remains immune to liability,” Young stated. “When a victim isn’t notified about a court hearing, a plea bargain, or offender’s release – the victim should have recourse against the government – which is not provided under Issue 1,” Young stated. “The problem in Ohio is not the absence of victims’ rights, but the lack of a remedy when the government fails to carry out duties owed to victims.”
Arguments against Issue 1 stated the legislation could further complicate trials by giving victims the right to refuse to turn over potential evidence and to petition the court of appeals and will compromise rights including double jeopardy, confrontation and speedy trial while potentially delaying court proceedings and increasing court costs.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.