Marsy's Law passes House committee; moves on to full House for consideration

01/22/2018 05:02 PM

FRANKFORT – Senate Bill 3, otherwise known as Marsy’s Law, is one step closer to being passed by the General Assembly and being passed by the House Standing Committee on Elections, Constitutional amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs on Monday.

SB 3, sponsored by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, which passed by an 11-1 vote, with Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville, casting the lone no vote, would establish, for the first time ever, a Victims’ Bill of Rights within the Kentucky Constitution.

Those rights include the right to notice of proceedings or of escape or release of the accused, the right to be present, the right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay, the right to consult with the prosecution, the right to reasonable protection from the accused, the right to consideration of the victims’ safety when setting bail or release conditions, the right to restitution, the right to fairness in consideration of the victims’ safety, dignity and privacy, and the right to be informed of the rights.

Kentucky is one of 14 states that do not offer constitutional level protections for crime victims.

Former Woodford County Sheriff and member of the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association Wayne Wright spoke to committee members in favor of the legislation because he say that he’s seen firsthand how victims feel that they are left out of the process.

“We see and hear the frustration of many victims about not knowing when to talk or their say is not being heard,” Wright said.

Kentucky Association of Defense Lawyers President David Ward, spoke against the legislation saying that he doesn’t feel it will bring about the intended results since some victims may not be able to afford to hire an attorney to get the attention that they want.

“If you just give this to people who can afford private counsel to come in and litigate in front of the bar, then you’re giving this to a small sliver of the population, and quite frankly, it raises some equal protection problems.”

Rep. Jason Petrie, R-Elkton, disagreed with Ward, feeling that victims having constitutional rights would get more attention than just the current statutory rights.

“If you have someone who walks in with statutory rights as a victim does now, than that victim really has no voice without an attorney next to them,” Petrie said. “However, if someone walks in with constitutional protections, then that judge gives a lot more deference to what that victim is saying.”

Senate Bill 3 will now be sent to the House floor for consideration.

If passed by the House, Kentucky voters will have the opportunity to vote on Marsy’s Law on the November 2018 ballot.


Subscribe to email updates.

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