Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/26/1994 04:15 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATOR TAYLOR brought CSHJR 43(FIN) (RIGHTS OF CRIME VICTIMS; CRIMINAL ADMIN) before the committee as the next order of business. REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER, prime sponsor of HJR 43, said the resolution deals with victims rights. It provides two sections: one dealing with penal administration, which reorders the priority of the considerations of penal administration, and the other relating to the rights of crime victims. In the second section dealing with victims' rights, it is taking statutory provisions that exist currently and raising them to the level of the constitution. Number 260 SENATOR LITTLE asked what the advantage is in putting these rights into the constitution when they are already in statute. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER answered it is to give them equal billing with the constitutional rights of criminal defendants. Whenever a victim's right, statutory as it is now, comes against a constitutional right of a criminal defendant, the constitutional right has greater weight. Number 280 SENATOR LOREN LEMAN, Chairman of the Senate State Affairs Committee, was present to explain changes made in the State Affairs SCS. The substantive addition in that committee was in Section 1 where they added community condemnation, rights of victims of crimes, and restitution from the offender to the current list of protecting the public and the principle of reformation. Number 326 SENATOR DONLEY said the most important question to him is the question of what kind of impact this would have on existing rights. He also has concern that the language "the Legislature shall implement" is not a sufficient guideline to accord that the courts would only go so far as the existing statutory language. He said he preferred the language that was in SJR 2 (CRIME VICTIM RIGHTS;CRIM JUSTICE ADMIN) which made several caveats, such as giving the Legislature the authority to define what a crime victim is. He suggested changing the language at the beginning of Section 24 to read "A victim of crime, as defined by law,"... REPRESENTATIVE PORTER voiced concern that by putting more words in, the more words there are to be interpreted, which increases the chances of having varying opinions on what is trying to be said. Number 460 SENATOR TAYLOR said one of his concerns is what happens with the people who perceive themselves to be a victim of a crime, but the prosecutor has decided not to prosecute. Although there used to be a provision that a private citizen could prosecute his or her own case, that was taken away approximately six years ago. SENATOR DONLEY pointed out that a private citizen still has the right to make a presentation to a grand jury. There was extensive discussion on the statutory definition of "victim." TAPE 94-42, SIDE B Number 120 SENATOR LITTLE moved the following conceptual amendment on page 1, line 14: After "Rights of Crime Victims" insert "A victim of crime, as defined by law, shall have the rights described in this section as provided by law." Hearing no objection, the amendment was adopted. SENATOR DONLEY had also suggested that in Section 12 changing the words "penal administration" to "criminal justice," but SENATOR TAYLOR said he wasn't prepared to move on that question because it was a bigger shift than he was willing to take. Number 140 SENATOR LITTLE moved that on page 2, line 9, delete the sentence "The legislature shall implement this section." SENATOR TAYLOR stated his objection of doing so at this point because he thinks it is important to have in the constitution the authorization that the legislature should, in fact, implement the section. The roll was taken with the following result: Senators Donley and Little voted "Yea" and Senator Taylor voted "Nay." The Chairman stated the amendment had failed. Number 181 SENATOR TAYLOR said there was still the question of "penal" versus "criminal," as well as the question of a proposed paragraph (b) regarding assessments against convicted defendants, and he preferred to hold HJR 43 for a couple of days in order to work on drafting acceptable language.