Ahmaud Arbery Should be Referred to As A Victim in Court
Victims’ Rights Organization Calls Defense Motion in Arbery Case an Attack on Constitutional Rights
ATLANTA - January 7, 2021 - In light of recent motions by defense attorneys for Gregory and Travis McMichael, the father and son charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, Marsy’s Law for Georgia today made a clear case that Ahmaud Arbery and his family should be referred to as victims in court.
Maggie McDaniel, a spokesperson on behalf of Marsy’s Law for Georgia, has released the following statement from Marsy’s Law:
“Victims cannot be canceled on the whim of a defense lawyer. Ahmaud Arbery and his family should be referred to as victims because that is what they are according to the constitution; victim is a legal status that doesn’t have anything to do with the defendant.
“At best, this motion is sheer political theater, aimed at influencing the court. At worst, it’s an attack on Georgia’s Crime Victims Bill of Rights.
“Should this absurd motion be upheld, it would almost certainly be a breach of the Arbery family’s constitutional rights, including their rights to be present, to be heard and to be consulted during proceedings.”
On December 30, the defense attorneys filed a motion stating, “Defendants, Travis and Greg McMichael, respectfully move that the prosecution be prohibited from the use of prejudicial terms at trial, during jury selection, or in the presence of witnesses. These terms include the use of the word ‘Victim’."
However, this flies in the face of Georgia law which is clear that when the police establish probable cause that a crime has been committed, they identify the victims according to a definition in the Georgia constitution. The courts have ruled that this does not impede the due process of any person or persons who may be charged in connection with the crime.
In 2018, Georgia voters overwhelmingly approved Marsy’s Law, which added enforceable rights for crime victims to the Georgia Constitution, known as the Crime Victims Bill of Rights. Any change to the status of victims in the courtroom has the potential to breach the constitutional rights of all Georgians.
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 marsyslawforga.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 walked into a grocery store where she was 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 life’s mission to give victims and their family’s constitutional protections and equal rights. Since California’s passage of the Victim’s Bill of Rights Act of 2008, Marsy’s Law legislation has been overwhelmingly approved by voters in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.
Maggie McDaniel, on behalf of Marsy’s Law Georgia