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Ohio voters approve amendment expanding crime victim rights

[JURIST] Ohio voters on Tuesday approved an amendment [text, PDF] that will give Ohio crime victims more Constitutional rights.

Issue 1 passed with over 82 percent of the vote [official election results], giving crime victims more rights and requiring that those rights be as well protected as the rights of the criminal suspects. The rights provided by this amendment include the right to notice of the release or escape of the accused and the right to reasonable protection from the accused, as well as others. This amendment will repeal and replace [petition for amendment] some of the language currently used in Article I, Section 10a of the Ohio Constitution. This expands the rights of crime victims by providing more detailed and explicit language than Section 10a offered previously.

This measure and ones like it have been referred to as Marsy's Law [advocacy website], which is a reference to a 1983 case in which a girl named Marsy was stalked and murdered by an ex-boyfriend. One week later, her mother and her brother ran into her killer, who was out on bail, unbeknownst to them. After that incident, Marsy's brother Henry Nicholas started a national campaign to expand the rights of crime victims. The measure has been passed in several states already, and is on the 2018 ballot in a couple of other states as well.

Opponents of the measure include the ACLU of Ohio [press release] and the Ohio State Bar Association [legislative report], as well as State Public Defender Tim Young [statement]. They are critical of the measure giving victims the right to "refuse discovery requests made by the accused," stating that it is likely to cause slower trials.

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