Bill which would create voter referendum concerning victims' rights passes Senate

01/10/2018 04:46 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would which would create a crime Victims’ Bill of Rights in the Kentucky Constitution has passed the Senate by a 34-1 vote.

Senate Bill 3, also known as Marsy’s Law, sponsored by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, would be designed to ensure that crime victims are treated fairly and afforded rights equal to the accused during the judicial process.

If passed by the House, SB 3 would allow the issue to put on the ballot this November.

Westerfield told members of the Senate Committee on State and Local Government earlier in the day that legislation is designed to give victims a series of rights.

“The right to notice of proceedings, the right to notice of the escape of the disposition of the accused, the right to be present, and that’s a big one,” Westerfield said.

Testifying in favor of the bill, Melissa Buchanan, whose brother Charlie was murdered in 2000 by four individuals. She reflected on her frustrations with the system, and how she struggled to get information about the defendants.

“My family and I had to stumble our way through the justice system for each of the four defendant’s cases,” Buchanan said. “Until the four cases were transferred to Frankfort, my local newspaper man was my victim’s advocate because that’s how I learned of court dates.”

Lisa also voiced her frustration with the system after she was drugged and raped by her husband. Her nightmare continued after her husband was arrested and charged.

“At this point, I though the worst was over,” Lisa said. “I did what I was supposed to do, I went to the police, participated in the police report confession, and helped them make their case. I then trusted that the judicial system would take over and prosecute him for his crimes. I was even willing to testify if necessary, but it became very clear to me that the worst was not over. The prosecutor reminding me that I was only a witness.”

ACLU attorney Heather Gatnarek spoke in opposition of the legislation saying while the ACLU admits that treatment of survivors and victims of crime needs to improve, SB3 will have unintended consequences on the judicial system.

“What it will do is confuse and burden Kentucky’s justice system,” Gatnarek said.
“This bill before you offers no guidance on how courts across the commonwealth should reconcile any potential conflict.

“Thirty-four to one with complete support from both parties, with the exception of one vote, I think you’re going to find that same sort of support in the House, and I think you’ll see that same sort of support from the voters in November,” Westerfield said.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at



  • Ricky Lee Williams Jr. wrote on January 11, 2018 10:01 AM :

    If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it , does it make a noise ?

    I don’t know how many people know about this bill or what’s in it. The Senate has made a big to do out of it. They gave Sen. Westerfield a 10 min standing O. They have it plastered all over twitter and FB. They got Whitney in every position on could looking just right in the right angles and lighting. Vogue couldn’t have done better with the spread.

    We have to much Flash going on today. Very little substance being told. The public has all but tuned out. And rightfully so after watching this bunch try to act like professional legislators.

    This is a good bill and needs to be passed on the November ballot. Sen. Westerfield does deserve credit but not praise by no stretch of imagination. He , like his peers, haven’t put in the time nor the effort in selling any of their bills. This bill came out of committee yesterday. Then straight to the Senate Chamber for a vote. No discussion on Senate Floor. Passed with only one no vote. Bi partisan they said. Are there any democrats left in the Senate ? I haven’t heard. I guess maybe one stood up and introduced their guest a few days back. Maybe another called for a resolution or maybe they just co sponsored it that a peer filed for a good friend from a town they grew up in. Where Grand Paw started the family dynasty in KY politics. God Bless you Grand Daddy. We call him Pa paw before he passed years ago. Beloved still though..

    Nick , when you do your weekly influence on Frankfort. Please consider the House and Senate Clerk. Those two seem to be the only one working or at least having to speak in front of the camera’s. The start of the on the job politicking ( reading of resolutions, name on roadways, bridges, birthdays etc ) has begun in both chambers on tax payers dime. But , with Sen. Julian Carroll not telling jokes anymore to buy time after your story came out on his private life. We need something to keep them looking busy before the filing deadline comes and they can go to ramming through all these real bills their lobbyist friends have been working on for the important people that really pay the way Frankfort runs and operates.Behind the scenes of course. Not official..

    Friends , you have to get involved in your government. File your papers to run for office. We have got to stop celebrating mediocrity and allowing sub par efforts from our members in the General Assembly to not go unchallenged any longer. We have hit rock bottom in Frankfort these first 12 days in. Our communities and our people are the causalities of this lack of leadership..The tide has went out and not even the Senate with all their bluster and self congratulatory hooray could carry the load for the House when it needed them to step up and lead. What has taken place at the start has damaged both Chambers and showed warts that us that follow closely knew was there all along. They are more show business than serious thinkers and problem solvers.. RL

What do you have to say?


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.