A Closer Look With Christine Scartz
Christine Scartz is a clinical associate professor at the University of Georgia School of Law and director of the Law School’s Jane W. Wilson Family Justice Clinic. Before joining the law school faculty in 2015, Christine was in private practice concentrating on family law and criminal defense. She graduated from UGA Law School magna cum laude in 1994 and from the University of Virginia with distinction in 1991 with degrees in French and history.
Since the passage of Marsy's Law in your state, what significant changes or improvements have you observed within the court system?
Since the passage of Marsy’s Law in Georgia, I have seen an increased willingness of victims to ask for the information they need and deserve as well as quicker response times from prosecutors’ offices. Indeed in many circumstances, victims are getting information even before they have to ask for it.
In what ways has Marsy's Law amplified the level of support and safeguards offered to crime victims navigating through the criminal justice system?
Marsy’s Law has amplified to prosecutors’ offices the importance of timely and thorough victim notification. As funding is available for notification clerks, prosecutors are prioritizing filling those positions and making them effective. Prosecutors can’t choose whether or not to integrate various victim-related tasks into their protocols, so there’s no “if," just “how."
As you’ve interacted with victims and survivors of crime, have any specific rights or provisions in Marsy’s Law made a notable difference in their experiences?
I have seen an increasing number of victims being comfortable with asserting their right to be heard in disposition hearings and a parallel increase in prosecutors being comfortable with facilitating victims’ right to be heard. Many judges are also becoming more comfortable with integrating victims into non-trial proceedings.
As a proactive advocate for Marsy's Law, what kind of feedback have you received from the people you work with and the wider community?
When people learn that I’m on the Marsy’s Law for Georgia Board, they often have questions about how the law works. I’m always happy to engage in conversations about Marsy’s Law, and people typically respond with thanks and gratitude that there is someone in their community who understands how the law should work.