State Issue 1 would detail rights of crime victims

From staff reports

State Issue 1 will be on the ballot because of a nearly $3 million campaign by Parents of Murdered Children, Inc., a nonprofit started by Henry Nicolas after his sister was murdered in the 1980s.

The measure would replace Ohio Constitutional Amendment 2, which gave constitutional protection to the rights of victims. Issue 2 will include a more detailed list of such rights.

Local officials have said these rights are already being provided to victims.

The rights the issue would guarantee for victims are:

≤ the right to privacy and to be treated with respect, fairness, and dignity;

≤ the right to information about the rights and services available to crime victims;

≤ the right to notification in a timely manner of all proceedings in the case;

≤ the right to be present and heard at all court proceedings, including the right to petition the court to protect the victim’s rights;

≤ the right to a prompt conclusion of the case;

≤ to refuse discovery requests made by the accused, except as authorized by Article I, Section 10 of the Ohio constitution;

≤ the right to reasonable protection from the accused;

≤ the right to notice of the release or escape of the accused; and

≤ the right to restitution.

The existing provision in the state Constitution, which is Section 10(a) f Article 1, states simply that victims of crime “be accorded fairness, dignity and respect in the criminal justice system” and “be given reasonable and appropriate notice, information, access and protection and a meaningful role in the criminal justice process.” It was passed in 1994 with a ‘yes’ vote of 7.64 percent.

The Ohio Association of Criminal Defense lawyers is opposed to the measure. According to Ballotopedia, a spokesman for the group called the amendment “overkill” and said the existing law is adequate protection for the rights of victims.

If approved, the amendment will be effective 90 days after the election.