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PA Ballot measure - Marsy's Law

The Mark

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Pennsylvania Marsy's Law Crime Victims Rights Amendment (2019) - Ballotpedia

I've been reading through this amendment and I'm concerned that parts of it could be abused against the accused.

Especially:

(a) To secure for victims justice and due process throughout the criminal and juvenile justice systems, a victim shall have the following rights, as further provided and as defined by the General Assembly, which shall be protected in a manner no less vigorous than the rights afforded to the accused:...
...to refuse an interview, deposition or other discovery request made by the accused or any person acting on behalf of the accused;...
That bolded part seems too absolute - how could a defense attorney/team defend their client if there's an absolute prevention against interviewing, deposing, or discovering evidence from the accuser?
 

Casper

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Pennsylvania Marsy's Law Crime Victims Rights Amendment (2019) - Ballotpedia

I've been reading through this amendment and I'm concerned that parts of it could be abused against the accused.

Especially:


That bolded part seems too absolute - how could a defense attorney/team defend their client if there's an absolute prevention against interviewing, deposing, or discovering evidence from the accuser?
Agree, that wording seems to remove the ability of a defensive attorney and o defend the accused, does not pass the smell test.
 

Jetboogieman

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That is interesting and I’m approaching this from a super laymen’s POV here and I know we have a few people around who really understand the law.

But simply by giving that right to the victim, doesn’t necessarily mean it will aid the victim in trial or give them an advantage, could be quite the opposite in some cases, simply a right you may exercise, possibly at your peril depending on the situation.

But again there are people more qualified to offer more insight and I hope they do because I’d be interested to hear what they have to say.

Agree, that wording seems to remove the ability of a defensive attorney and o defend the accused, does not pass the smell test.
But I’m sure the Jury or Judge would have to take into account that the plaintiff/victim opted not to answer questions of opposing counsel so by simply giving that right to not have to, I don’t think from my understanding would necessarily, on the face of it, be an inherent positive for the victim.
 
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Harshaw

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Pennsylvania Marsy's Law Crime Victims Rights Amendment (2019) - Ballotpedia

I've been reading through this amendment and I'm concerned that parts of it could be abused against the accused.

Especially:


That bolded part seems too absolute - how could a defense attorney/team defend their client if there's an absolute prevention against interviewing, deposing, or discovering evidence from the accuser?
That won't pass muster when challenged.

There are other things in "Marsy's Law" which are similarly problematic.
 

The Mark

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That won't pass muster when challenged.

There are other things in "Marsy's Law" which are similarly problematic.
Yeah, but especially given the brevity of the ballot question, I'm wondering if it'll pass anyway.

I'm going to vote against it because of my concerns about it though.
 

Harshaw

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Yeah, but especially given the brevity of the ballot question, I'm wondering if it'll pass anyway.

I'm going to vote against it because of my concerns about it though.
It has passed in a number of states. Challenges to it will no doubt be forthcoming.
 

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Yeah, but especially given the brevity of the ballot question, I'm wondering if it'll pass anyway.

I'm going to vote against it because of my concerns about it though.
It will pass, but I would vote against it. There are parts of it I am fine with, but parts of it are a bit excessive to me, and probably unconstitutionally vague.
 

The Mark

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Pennsylvania Marsy's Law Crime Victims Rights Amendment (2019) - Ballotpedia

I've been reading through this amendment and I'm concerned that parts of it could be abused against the accused.

Especially:


That bolded part seems too absolute - how could a defense attorney/team defend their client if there's an absolute prevention against interviewing, deposing, or discovering evidence from the accuser?
Clarification: It's not an absolute prevention against, it's an absolute right to refuse granted to the "victim".

Also, I was just reading the opposition from the PACDL - https://www.pacdl.org/files/Marsy's Law_pacdl_final_3_26_2019.pdf
This Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers makes several statements opposing this law, but the overarching one seems to be that the law makes an assumption of "victim" status before conviction of the accused.

Also it specifically addresses the part of the proposed amendment I was concerned about:
In addition to the rights referenced above, Marsy’s law would also result in the deprivation of an
accused’s constitutional right to confront witnesses and evidence against him or her. Marsy’s law would
give the victim the right to withhold potentially exculpatory evidence by refusing to be interviewed or
deposed by the accused or a person acting on behalf of the accused. This right of refusal will deny the
accused access to evidence arguably critical to the constitutional right to a fair trial. This would be a
violation of the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states: “In all criminal prosecutions,
the accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory
process for obtaining witnesses in his favor…” Depriving defendants of their right to confront witnesses
would also deprive them of their constitutional right to due process.
 

The Mark

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It will pass, but I would vote against it. There are parts of it I am fine with, but parts of it are a bit excessive to me, and probably unconstitutionally vague.
I agree with parts of it as well, but not the whole.

Actually there's a legal case ongoing about something like that: League of Women Voters of PA and Haw v. Boockvar
Essentially arguing that each part of the proposed amendment has to be voted on separately according to the PA constitution.
 

The Mark

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It has passed in a number of states. Challenges to it will no doubt be forthcoming.
I was reading into a couple states where it was overturned - Kentucky and Montana.
 

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I agree with parts of it as well, but not the whole.

Actually there's a legal case ongoing about something like that: League of Women Voters of PA and Haw v. Boockvar
Essentially arguing that each part of the proposed amendment has to be voted on separately according to the PA constitution.
My state has its own version of it protecting witnesses and victims, but it has plenty of discretion and an out from liability if they failed to provide that. I don't see that Marsy's Law has any safe harbor provisions and a high maintenance victim or their next of kin could really become hard to manage under this amendment, especially considering how emotionally wrought and free-floating their anger could be.
 

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Marsy’s Law ballot question will appear in Pa., but state Supreme Court says votes won’t be counted for now

Marsy’s Law ballot question will appear in Pa., but state Supreme Court says votes won’t be counted for now

If you’ve turned on network television in Pennsylvania in the last several weeks, you’ve probably been treated to political advertising in the form of the actor Kelsey Grammer telling the story of how, after his father was shot and killed, he found out about the killer’s release through a tabloid.

The actor and other advocates have been drumming up support for Marsy’s Law, a proposed constitutional amendment that Pennsylvania voters will see on election ballots on Tuesday — but those votes won’t be counted or certified until state courts decide whether Marsy’s Law is constitutional.
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I voted for it last evening.
 
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