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Crime victims’ rights proposal clears Kentucky Senate

By BRUCE SCHREINER
Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- A proposal that would add a series of crime victims' rights to the Kentucky Constitution won approval Tuesday in the state Senate.

The measure, known as Marsy's Law, is a reprise of a 2018 constitutional amendment that cleared the legislature and was approved by Kentucky voters. The amendment was voided when the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled the question posed to voters was too vague.

The new proposal will remedy those concerns, its supporters say.

The bill won 31-6 Senate passage and goes to the House.

It would guarantee crime victims have a series of constitutional rights, including the right to timely notification of court proceedings, the right to be present for those hearings and the right to be heard in any hearing involving a release, plea or sentencing.

"None of those rights give the victim any control over the criminal case," said Sen. Whitney Westerfield, the bill's lead sponsor.

"Prosecutorial and judicial discretion that exists today will exist with Marsy's Law in effect," he said. "But those victims will have a voice that is protected in our constitution, and they deserve that."

Republican Sen. John Schickel countered that the state has a statutory set of rights for crime victims but that putting them in the constitution would be a "grave mistake."

"This bill would impede the ability to find the truth in our court system," he said.

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