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Marsy's Law, which will create constitutional rights for crime victims, passes in Kentucky, LEX 18 projects

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Posted at 8:07 PM, Nov 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-03 23:02:57-05

(LEX 18) — Marsy's Law, which will create constitutional rights for crime victims, has passed in Kentucky, LEX 18 has projected.

The law is named after Marsalee Nicholas, a California woman who was killed by her ex-boyfriend back in 1983. One week after Marsy was murdered, her parents walked into a grocery store after visiting her daughter's grave and was confronted by the accused murderer. They had no idea that he had been released on bail.

"Today is truly a landmark day for Kentucky crime victims," said Emily Bonistall Postel, Marsy's Law for Kentucky director of outreach. "Amid a year of much uncertainty, voters sent a clear and powerful message: Kentuckians whose lives are impacted by crime deserve our support and to have their rights protected in our constitution. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our vast, statewide army of Marsy's Law advocates, survivors in all 120 counties will no longer have to feel alone, insignificant, or shut out of the very system they are counting on to carry out justice."

"On behalf of tens of thousands of crime victims statewide, thank you, Kentuckians, for voting YES to approve Amendment 1," said State Senator Whitney Westerfield. "Marsy's Law for Kentucky will correct the troubling imbalance our current justice system allows — finally giving victims constitutionally protected rights equal to those of the accused and convicted. Countless elected officials, community leaders, and advocates across the Commonwealth have fought for years to ensure that crime victims are given the voice and dignity they deserve, and today that worthy goal has become a reality."

Supporters told lawmakers crime victims need the same rights as the accused, including a voice in the judicial process. However, not everyone agrees with that.

The Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (KACDL) says Kentucky already has a crime victims' bill of rights. The group said they worried the constitutional measure could impact a defendant's rights.

The Kentucky Supreme Court previously struck down Marsy's Law because a summary was printed on the ballot instead of the amendment's entire text.