Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/17/2003 01:35 PM Senate JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
     CSHB  68(JUD)-OFFICE OF VICTIMS' RIGHTS: INCLUDE MUNIS                                                                 
SENATOR THERRIAULT  made a motion to  adopt CSHB 68 (JUD)  as the                                                               
working document.  There being no objection, the motion carried.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RALPH  SAMUELS,   bill  sponsor,  explained  CSHB
68(JUD)  is  a   clarification  of  the  language   of  the  22nd                                                               
Legislature  in the  creation of  the Office  of Victims'  Rights                                                               
(OVR).   The  OVR was  created in  an effort  to give  victims of                                                               
crime  an  independent  voice in  the  criminal  justice  system.                                                               
Essentially  the OVR  is an  ombudsman;  they have  the power  to                                                               
collect data and issue reports to the appropriate body.                                                                         
A  situation  arose because  of  the  tragic shooting  of  former                                                               
Commissioner Glenn  Godfrey and his  wife Patti in Anchorage.   A                                                               
war of  words and attorneys  ensued over  whether or not  the OVR                                                               
had jurisdiction  within a municipality.   The  municipality said                                                               
the OVR  had no  jurisdiction because  the word  municipality was                                                               
not specifically in the statute.   That was despite the fact that                                                               
55 percent of  the people live in the  municipality and therefore                                                               
55 percent  of the crime  victims are  in the municipality.   The                                                               
OVR  office  is located  within  the  Municipality of  Anchorage.                                                               
This  bill merely  adds  the word  municipality.   The  Anchorage                                                               
Assembly  has   passed  an  ordinance   that  agrees   with  this                                                               
legislation  and   the  Mayor  of  Anchorage   has  also  agreed.                                                               
"Everybody has  kissed and  made up  now and  the bill  is moving                                                               
SENATOR   ELLIS  asked   if   Mr.   Branchflower  requested   the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  replied Mayor Wuerch requested  it and it                                                               
was  his city  attorney  who  made the  ruling  that created  the                                                               
2:15 pm                                                                                                                       
SENATOR THERRIAULT  asked if  there was anything  at the  time of                                                               
the original  act that  talked about  OVR being  specifically for                                                               
the state entities or just the opposite.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS said there  was no specific discussion for                                                               
state entities.  He said when  he read through the minutes of the                                                               
various hearings and  talked to Senator Halford,  the sponsor, it                                                               
was obvious  the intent was  to include municipalities.   Without                                                               
the Anchorage  Police Department  (APD) and the  Fairbanks Police                                                               
Department being  included, up  to 80 percent  of the  victims of                                                               
crime  are  excluded.    According  to the  sponsor,  it  was  an                                                               
SENATOR  FRENCH  added  this  would also  clear  up  a  potential                                                               
conflict  if APD  investigated a  case  and forwarded  it to  the                                                               
State District Attorneys' Office where APD  is then an arm of the                                                               
state  agency.    Those  little disputes  are  frequent.  If  the                                                               
municipal  prosecutor  handles  the   case  APD  is  a  municipal                                                               
organization.   One investigation  would be in  the hands  of OVR                                                               
and one would not.  He said this is a good idea.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  said that's  true; particularly  with the                                                               
municipal  prosecutor's office  rather than  APD, but  this would                                                               
include both cases.                                                                                                             
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  asked  about   the  difference  between  the                                                               
original bill and the CS.  He asked  if it was just the change in                                                               
the title.                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS answered yes.                                                                                            
SENATOR ELLIS said it was always  clear to him and the people who                                                               
worked on  this legislation, supported Senator  Halford and voted                                                               
for it that the intent was  to cover everyone.  He disagreed with                                                               
the Anchorage  Municipal Attorney, Mr. Greene,  on many occasions                                                               
and this  opinion was laughable.   He  added he was  pleased this                                                               
was being corrected.                                                                                                            
CHAIR  SEEKINS  observed  this  is   a  fairly  simple  thing  to                                                               
accomplish the intent of the original legislation.                                                                              
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  moved  CSHB   68(JUD)  from  committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations  and  attached fiscal  note.    There                                                               
being no objection, the motion carried.                                                                                         

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