By Gretchen Schuldt
State Attorney General Josh Kaul supports the proposed Marsy's Law amendment to the State Constitution even though it clearly would violate the U.S. Constitution Kaul swore to uphold.
The attorney general has been pretty quiet about the proposed amendment. His scant comment includes this unenlightening sentence. "We must do all we can to protect victims of crime."
He's not said anything about the ballot question that tells voters virtually nothing about what they actually are approving or disapproving, nor has he spoken about the very unsavory character Henry T. Nicholas III, who is bankrolling the Marsy's Law countrywide steamroller and who used his wealth to buy his way out of some real legal trouble.
So we wrote to Kaul to get some answers to a few questions about Marsy's Law. They are not all the questions we have about the law, but they are some important ones. We will be sending questions to other supporters as well.
Marsy’s Law would grant a victim the right “to refuse an interview, deposition, or other discovery request made by the accused or any person acting on behalf of the accused.” How does this proposed right reconcile with the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution? Those amendments guarantee defendants a right to exculpatory information and evidence, at a minimum. Do you support allowing victims to withhold this information from defendants?
Marsy’s Law provides several new rights to victims. Among them is a right, “upon request, to attend all proceedings involving the case.”
Some crimes have multiple victims. Let’s say a crime involves 10 victims. What happens if just a few of those people ask to attend all the proceedings? What happens if they have different work or school or child-care schedules and they can’t all make proceedings at the same time?
Another proposed right is to be provided “with timely notice about all rights under this section and all other rights, privileges, or protections of the victim provided by law, including how such rights, privileges, or protections are enforced.” Who makes sure that victims get this notice? The police? The district attorney? When would it happen? Again, many crimes have multiple victims. In addition, the crime may be relatively minor and the scene chaotic (an example may be indecent exposure on a crowded city bus). How could anyone ensure that all victims are provided notice? What would happen if all victims are NOT notified?
Stay tuned. When we get Kaul's answers, so will you.
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