Marsy's Law

Unofficial results show Kentucky voters will again approve the constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law, aiming to expand and ensure rights for crime victims in the justice system.

The Kentucky State Board of Elections reports Kentuckians approved Constitutional Amendment 1 on Tuesday with 63% of the vote tallying 1,135,511 votes in total, in unofficial results with all counties reporting. The constitutional ballot amendment is designed to ensure rights for crime victims including the right to be notified and present at hearings including pleas, sentencing, and the consideration of commutations and pardons.

State Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Republican Whitney Westerfield co-sponsored the bill that put Marsy’s Law constitutional amendment on the ballot. He said voters’ approval is a win for crime victims.

A Kentucky lawmaker has reintroduced a bill that would give crime victims the same rights afforded to the accused, including a voice in the criminal justice system.

Marsy's Law would guarantee crime victims constitutional protections, including the right to be notified of all court proceedings, the right to be present for those hearings, and the right to be heard in any hearing involving an offender’s release, plea, or sentencing.

The Kentucky Supreme Court has unanimously ruled against “Marsy’s Law,” a proposal that would have enshrined a new list of rights for crime victims in the state constitution.

Kentucky voters supported the measure by a wide margin during a ballot referendum on Election Day last year, but the court ruled that the entire 553-word proposal should have been included on the ballot instead of only a 38-word summary.

The language included on last year’s ballot was established by the Marsy’s Law bill, which passed the state legislature in 2018.

Flickr/Creative Commons

  The Supreme Court of Kentucky heard arguments Friday about the wording of the Marsy’s Law amendment voters saw on the ballot last November. The proposal would add new rights for crime victims to the state constitution.

Even though 63 percent of Kentucky voters approved Marsy’s Law on Election Day, the measure has been delayed by a lawsuit that says the ballot question was too vague.

Marsy’s Law will go before the Kentucky Supreme Court on Friday, three months after the state's voters approved the measure as a constitutional amendment. 

The measure giving constitutional rights to crime victims was approved by voters in the Nov. 6 election with 63 percent support, but a legal challenge has prevented the law from being enacted.  The law gives crime victims the same rights as the accused, including a voice in the judicial process. 

Kentucky Supreme Court to Hear Marsy's Law Case

Nov 15, 2018
Marsy's Law for Kentucky Facebook

The Kentucky Supreme Court says it will hear a case about whether a Constitutional amendment voters have approved will stand.

The court announced Thursday it will hear arguments on Feb. 8 for "Marsy's Law."

The proposed amendment to the state Constitution would guarantee the rights of crime victims, including the right to be notified of and present for more court proceedings.

Lisa Autry

For the first time since 2012, Kentuckians will vote in a referendum to amend the state Constitution. 

Voters will decide on Tuesday whether or not to approve Marsy’s Law, which would give crime victims the same rights afforded to the accused, including a voice in the judicial process. 

Some opponents say the referendum is unnecessary and could create unintended consequences.

One Monroe County woman, Teresa Huber, is a solid 'yes' vote in support of Marsy's Law.

Kentucky Senator Appeals ‘Marsy’s Law’ Ruling

Oct 17, 2018
Marsy's Law for Kentucky Facebook

A Kentucky state senator has appealed a judge's ruling not to certify results of a constitutional referendum next month.

Kentucky is one of six states scheduled to vote on "Marsy's Law" next month. It would amend the state's constitution to include rights for crime victims, like the right to be notified of and present for most court proceedings.

Monday, Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled the question posted to voters on the ballot is misleading. It is too late to remove the question from the ballot. But he ordered election officials not to certify the results of the Nov. 6 election.

Kentucky Judge Blocks Certification of 'Marsy's Law' Vote

Oct 15, 2018

A judge has ordered election officials in Kentucky not to certify the results of an upcoming referendum on whether to change the state's constitution to guarantee the rights of crime victims. 

Kentucky is one of six states scheduled to vote on "Marsy's Law," a proposed constitutional amendment to guarantee crime victims similar rights as those accused of crimes in the judicial system.  The effort is named after a California college student killed in the 1980s. 

Judge to Decide 'Marsy's Law' Ballot Question in Kentucky

Oct 9, 2018
Marsy's Law for Kentucky Facebook

On election day, the Kentucky legislature will ask voters a yes or no question:

"Are you in favor of providing constitutional rights to victims of crime, including the right to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect, and the right to be informed and to have a voice in the judicial process?"

Voting "yes" would change the state's constitution, guaranteeing victims have rights like those accused of a crime. But the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers says the wording of the ballot question is misleading, and Tuesday they asked a state judge to block the referendum from happening.

The Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is suing to block a constitutional amendment said to advocate for victims’ rights from appearing on the ballot in November.

The measure is called Marsy’s Law. It passed the Kentucky General Assembly this year, and if it’s ratified by voters in the fall it will amend Kentucky’s constitution to require crime victims be notified of court proceedings, receive compensation from the convicted and more.

Last week, KACDL sued the Secretary of State’s office and Kentucky State Board of Elections, alleging the Marsy’s Law amendment is flawed due to its effects on the criminal justice system and the language representing the amendment on the ballot.

Stephen George

Catherine Milliner’s grandson Tony died when he was four years old. Her daughter’s boyfriend was charged with murdering the toddler. And as a three-year trial unfolded, Milliner wanted to keep tabs on every step of the case, including the whereabouts of the accused.

“I got online and found out where Johnny was, the gentleman who murdered my grandson, just by accident,” Milliner said.

Milliner said VINE, Kentucky’s court notification system, failed to notify her of key changes in the case, like the defendant’s transfers between prisons.

Ryland Barton

The Kentucky General Assembly has passed Marsy’s Law — a constitutional amendment that would provide protections to victims of alleged crimes and require courts to notify victims when a defendant is released from custody, among other things.

The proposed amendment doesn’t need to be signed by the governor, but will need majority approval by Kentucky voters during a referendum on Election Day this year to become law.