ICYMI: “Hawaii Crime Victims’ Bill Of Rights Deferred Another Year”
A Senate Committee Decides The Proposed Constitutional Amendment Was Flawed And Expects A New Version Next Session.
– Honolulu Civil Beat, By Marina Riker
Theresa Paulette’s son was killed by a drunk driver 22 years ago.
“I was immediately thrown into the unfamiliar world of the ‘criminal justice system’ and left to navigate it on my own,” Paulette said. “I trusted there would be justice, however I found it lacking in any regard for me, the victim, and my son, who lost his life.”
Her son was killed by a six-time DUI arrestee, Paulette said. And while she tried to cope, she struggled to get any information about the crash from law enforcement.
“I felt resistance every step of the way as I inquired or met to discuss the status of the investigation,” Paulette said. “It was agonizing waiting for the traffic accident investigation report, which took nearly a year, and the final decision was not to press charges.”
Ultimately, she said she felt re-victimized by the criminal justice system.
Several other people testified about similar experiences during a hearing Tuesday for Senate Bill 679, which would have amended the constitution to establish a crime victims’ bill of rights.
But the bill was derailed by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor on Wednesday morning. SB 679’s companion bill was also deferred in the House.
A similar attempt to establish constitutional rights for victims failed in 2013.
Sen. Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran, chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor, worried that the language in the bill was too broad and could infringe on the rights of offenders. Lawmakers plan to work on the bill to incorporate more specific language and re-introduce it next session, he said.
Also known as Marsy’s Law, SB 679 would have established constitutional rights for crime victims and their surviving immediate family members. Under the proposed law, they would be ensured access to timely information on court proceedings, restitution and guaranteed respectful treatment during the criminal justice process.
The law’s namesake is Marsalee “Marsy” Ann Nicholas, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend, Kerry Conley, in 1983 in Santa Barbara, California. Only a week after Marsy was killed, her mother and brother were confronted by the alleged murdered in a grocery store. They had no idea that he had been released on bail, and the courts and law enforcement had no obligation to keep them informed.
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