Montana Attorney General’s Office Calls For Comments on Marsy’s Law
October 20, 2015
Re: Constitutional Amendment to Ensure the Rights of Victims of Crime To Whom It May Concern:
We have received a proposed constitutional amendment to ensure the rights of victims of crime, submitted by Chuck Denowh of Helena, MT. We are requesting your comments on the ballot statements that will appear on the petition and the official ballot for this constitutional amendment. Pursuant to 13-27-312, ballot statements include a maximum 135-word statement of purpose summarizing the initiative and a maximum 50-word fiscal statement summarizing a fiscal note prepared by the Office of Budget and Policy Planning.
Under Montana law, these statements must express “the true and impartial explanation of the proposed ballot issue in plain, easily understood language and may not be arguments or written so as to create prejudice for or against the measure.” For this petition, the proponent prepared a ballot statement, but our office found that it did not comply with these requirements and has revised them accordingly.
I have enclosed a copy of the proposed amendment, the fiscal note, and drafts of the ballot statements. If you or your organization has comments on the ballot statements, they will be given careful consideration before the final statements are adopted. Because we are operating under the time restrictions imposed by statute, your comments must be received no later than noon on Wednesday, October 28, 2015. You may e-mail comments to [email protected]
Please feel free to forward a copy of this letter and enclosures to any other person who may be interested in the petition. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact me.
Deputy Attorney General
[C-Initiative Number] would add a new section to the Montana Constitution establishing specific rights for victims of crime. The rights enumerated include the right to participate in criminal and juvenile justice proceedings, to be notified of major developments in the criminal case, to be notified of changes to the offender’s custodial status, to be present at court proceedings and provide input to the prosecutor before a plea agreement is finalized, and to be heard at plea or sentencing proceedings, or any process that may result in the offender’s release. [C-Initiative Number] guarantees crime victims’ rights to restitution, privacy, to confer with the prosecuting attorney, and to be informed of their rights. [C-Initiative Number] defines specific terms and requires no further action by the Legislature for implementation. [C-Initiative Number], if passed by the electorate, will become effective immediately.
Significant fiscal impacts are expected for the Office of the Public Defender, Judicial Branch, Department of Corrections and local governments from passage of [C-Initiative Number], but those costs could not be accurately determined at this time.