Marsy’s Law fails in criminal justice subcommittee

The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee failed in a close vote to move Marsy’s Law for Tennessee (HJR0044) forward during its most recent session, disappointing Tennessee crime victims, their families and victim advocates.

“I am deeply disappointed in today’s outcome during the National Crime Victims Rights Week,” said Signal Mountain representative Patsy Hazlewood, who sponsored the bill. “I will always stand strong to strengthen the rights for crime victims. We will continue to pursue this worthy endeavor, so that victims of crimes have equal and enforceable rights to those of the convicted and accused.”

Adopting Marsy’s Law in Tennessee would have given survivors the legal right to assert leverage in several areas, insuring that they are treated with fairness when facing safety, dignity and privacy issues. Passage of this law would have given victims the right, upon request, to reasonable and timely notice of, and to be present at, all criminal public and juvenile delinquency proceedings involving the accused.

Victims would also have had the right to be heard in any release, plea, sentencing, disposition and parole proceeding as well as any public proceeding whenever the victim’s rights are involved.

They would have had the right to be free from harassment, intimidation and abuse throughout the criminal justice system, including reasonable protection from the accused or any person acting on behalf of that individual.

They would have been given the right, upon request, to reasonable notice of any release, transfer or escape of the accused or convicted person and would have had the right to full and timely restitution from the offender.

Passage of Marsy’s Law would have given the victim the right to a speedy trial or disposition and a prompt and final conclusion to the case after the conviction or sentence. Adoption of the law would have given victims the right, upon request, to confer with the prosecution and to be fully informed of all rights given to every crime victim.

Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail.

In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas has made it his mission to give victims and the families constitutional protections and equal rights. He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide.

For more information, visit marsyslawfortn.com.