Marsy’s Law for Georgia Requests the State’s Judicial System Designate the Protection of Victims’ Rights as an “Essential Function”
Marsy’s Law wants victims’ rights protected when courts are projected to reopen on July 14
ATLANTA – June 17, 2020 – Marsy’s Law for Georgia, a victims’ rights group which helped to pass a Constitutional Amendment in November 2018 that gives crime victims equal rights, has written a letter requesting the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, Harold D. Melton, designate the protection of victims’ rights as an “essential function” of the judicial system when Georgia courts reopen on July 14.
On March 14, 2020, in response to COVID-19, Chief Justice Melton issued an Order Declaring a Statewide Judicial Emergency, closing many of the courts and only allowing hearings for essential and critical matters, along with virtual hearings. The order was planned to end on May 13, but due to changes by the state of Georgia regarding the pandemic it was extended to June 12 at 11:59 p.m. On June 12, the Georgia Supreme Court released another update announcing July 14, 2020, as the new date for courts to reopen. When courts reopen on July 14, they are to operate under certain restrictions and guidelines to ensure the health and safety of individuals and only allow certain court hearings.
In response to the planned reopening of Georgia courts next month, Marsy’s Law for Georgia advisory board member Beverly Muhammad penned a letter recommending the state designate the protection of victims’ rights as an “essential function” of the judicial system, and specifically stated Article I, Section I of the Constitution as amended guarantees victims the right to be heard at proceedings involving the release, plea or sentencing of the accused, and the right, upon request, to reasonable, accurate and timely notice of such proceedings. Muhammad went onto write that victims of crime have an explicit constitutional right to assert and seek enforcement of their rights by motion within the criminal or delinquency proceeding. To read the entire letter, click here.
“On behalf, of Marsy’s Law for Georgia, I am honored to sign this letter and send it to the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court,” said Beverly Muhammad. “When courts reopen, I believe it is essential for crime victims to receive their full rights under Marsy’s Law, but in a safe and healthy manner,” she added.
To read the letter in its entirety, CLICK HERE.
About Marsy’s Law for Georgia
In 2018, Marsy’s Law amended the Georgia State Constitution to include a Bill of Rights for victims of violent crimes during criminal proceedings. The constitutional amendment received broad support and assures rights for victims, including standing to petition a court if they feel that their rights have been violated. Georgia is one of the numerous states across the country that have added Marsy’s Law to their constitutions in recent years. To learn more about Marsy’s Law Georgia, visit www.victimsrightsga.com. Victims and supporters interested in sharing their stories can email [email protected].
About Marsy’s Law
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail. In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas has made it his mission to give victims and their families’ constitutional protections and equal rights. He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide.
For more information on Marsy’s Law for All, please visit www.marsyslaw.us.
Sharon Goldmacher, on behalf of Marsy’s Law for Georgia