Marsy’s Law for Georgia Announces 2021 Advisory Board
The board will help Marsy’s Law for Georgia continue to elevate victims’ rights across the state.
ATLANTA ‐ February 23, 2021 – Marsy’s Law for Georgia, which supports equal rights for crime victims under the state’s Constitution, plans to continue to expand its mission across the state with the support of some of the most accomplished victims’ rights advocates and legal experts in Georgia.
After Marsy’s Law was passed in November 2018, the organization wanted to continue to elevate victims’ rights and ensure the law was being followed. As a result, Marsy’s Law for Georgia formed an advisory board in 2019. By 2020, the group’s work focused on collaborative projects like the creation of a victims’ rights notification card in cooperation with the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council (PAC) of Georgia, features in news media, and authoring multiple Op-Eds to help raise awareness of victims’ rights. The advisory board’s impactful work has now attracted additional members from across the state in 2021.
“The group of experts who have joined the Advisory Board this year will make an even greater impact in how we advocate for victims’ rights across the state of Georgia," says Brad Alexander, representative - Marsy’s Law for Georgia. “We filled out the board with members who can discuss every aspect of crime victims’ rights,” he added.
The new board members include:
Carla Rieffel Bozeman
Director of Communications - Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council (PAC) of Georgia
Carla Rieffel Bozeman currently serves as the director of communications for the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council (PAC) of Georgia. Her passion for helping crime victims began when she interned with a local victim-witness assistance program in college. Bozeman began her career in public service in 2008 as a legal assistant in the Henry County Solicitor-General’s Office and later served as a victim-witness advocate. She joined PAC in 2012, serving as both the executive assistant to the director and the victims’ services coordinator. She also served as grants administrator, coordinating the distribution of Victims of Crime Act funding, in partnership with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, to local victim witness assistance programs in prosecutors’ offices statewide. She was promoted to her current role in May 2018. Bozeman earned her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University.
Rita Davis-Cannon, Ed.D
Director of Victim Services – Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council (PAC) of Georgia
Rita’s passion for “helping victims find their voice” launched in 2001 when she changed her story from victim to advocate. Rita joined the Florence County, South Carolina Sheriff’s Office as their first African American Law Enforcement Crime Victim’s Advocate. Knowing firsthand the impact the criminal justice system has on a crime victim, she quickly joined forces with grassroots organizations that shared common goals, including that all victims knew their rights, that agencies protected the rights of victims, and that all victims of crime were treated with dignity and respect throughout the criminal justice process. In 2009, she relocated to Georgia where she followed her passion for the support of crime victims as a Trial Victim Advocate for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. Her dedication to the field of victim services did not go unnoticed. She was quickly promoted to a Victim Witness Coordinator position by the DeKalb County District Attorney and ultimately appointed as the Director of Victim Services by the DeKalb Solicitor General.
Today, Rita serves as the Director of Victim Services for the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council (PAC) of Georgia. In this role, she provides statewide consultation, training, networking, and professional development to Georgia’s victim-witness assistance personnel. Additionally, this platform allows her to present the needs and concerns of crime victims to the community, elected officials, agencies, and public policymakers through education, resources, collaboration, and advocacy. When she is not speaking at community forums on the significance of collaborative efforts to support the rights of victims, she is serving on local and national boards advocating for change. Rita’s most prized accomplishment was the publication of her research dissertation titled, “Assessing common factors that exist among victims of Intimate Partner Violence: The Possibility of predicting victim cooperation with Criminal Prosecutions.” She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, a Master’s Degree in Counseling, and a Doctor of Education Degree in Counseling Psychology. Rita’s relentless fight for victim rights has been consistent for the past 19 years. Her works continue to contribute to the sweeping changes found in our criminal justice systems. More importantly, her life and her works are responsible for profoundly changing the lives of thousands of crime victims.
Victims Compensation Division Director - Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC)
Aisha Ford, MPA, is the victims’ compensation division director for the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC). In addition to the Victims Compensation Program, Ford’s division administers the DUI Memorial Sign, Forensic Interview, Forensic Medical Exam, Officers Initiative, and Unclaimed Restitution programs. Ford focuses on helping victims of violent crime and their families tackle the undue financial burden resulting from their victimization, so the victim and their families can focus on the healing process. Ford has worked for CJCC for 10 years. In her previous role as program director, she administered criminal justice and juvenile justice initiatives, including, but not limited to the management of accountability courts, the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant program, the Safe Haven grant program, and the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment grant program. Ford has served on the Georgia School of Addiction Services Council and currently serves as secretary of the National Association of Crime Victims Compensation Board. Ford is a graduate of Florida A&M University and a post-graduate of the University of Connecticut.
Counsel - James Bates LLP
Before attending law school, Christopher “Chris” earned his B.A. in Political Science from Valdosta State University in 2009. He then earned his JD, Cum Laude, from John Marshall Law School in 2012. Prior to joining James Bates in the spring of 2019, Chris worked as an Assistant District Attorney for the Oconee Judicial Circuit, where he gained experience in white-collar criminal defense and federal criminal defense cases. He has extensive courtroom experience, with an emphasis on complex jury trials. In addition, Chris's legal practice focuses on insurance defense, liability defense, general litigation, and commercial litigation.
Managing member - Isenberg & Hewitt, P.C.
Hewitt is an AV-rated attorney headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and is a nationally recognized leader representing crime victims of sexual and other violent assaults. Hewitt has been a member of the Georgia Bar since 1985 and serves as the managing member of Isenberg & Hewitt, P.C. Hewitt attended Lakeland College and Kent State University, later graduating from Atlanta Law School. After serving four years in the U. S. Navy, Hewitt spent over six years in public law enforcement and 16 years in the private security industry where he held positions in middle and upper management and was ultimately president of one of that nation’s largest private security companies, Globe Security Systems, Inc., a private security firm with more than 13,000 employees and 110 offices in the United States and Europe. Hewitt left corporate America in 1989 and opened a private law practice in Atlanta with Harriet Isenberg.
Hewitt is a member of the U. S. District Courts for the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts; the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Georgia; and the U.S. District Court of Colorado. He has also been admitted to Pro hac vice in Ohio, Nevada, West Virginia, Texas, South Carolina, and Colorado. Hewitt is a long-standing member of the American Association for Justice: The Georgia Trial Lawyers Association; and the Sandy Springs Bar. Hewitt sits on several Boards of Directors, including the National Center for Victims of Crime, where he currently serves as its co-chair, and the National Crime Victims Bar Association where he sits on the Advisory Board; Georgia’s Crime Victim Advocacy Council where he served as president for seven years; Atlanta Victim Assistance; and most recently the Advisory Board of Marsy’s Law for Georgia. Hewitt is also a member of the National Organization for Victim Assistance; Lawyer’s Club of Atlanta; and the Million Dollar Verdict Club. Hewitt has spoken on issues of premises liability, negligent security, wrongful death, and sexual assault at local and national seminars and has appeared on radio and television commenting on numerous victim-related issues.
Christine M. Scartz
Clinical Assistant Professor & Jane W. Wilson Family Justice Clinic Director
University of Georgia
Christine M. Scartz is the director of the University of Georgia School of Law’s Jane W. Wilson Family Justice Clinic. Before joining the law school’s faculty in August 2015, she worked as an associate attorney in the Daniels & Taylor firm, where she handled domestic relations and criminal law practice primarily in Gwinnett County. Her other previous legal experience includes serving as an appointed attorney for criminal appeals in the Gwinnett County Superior Court, where she represented indigent criminal defendants in post-conviction proceedings, and as a litigation associate in the Law Office of Mike Bothwell. She has served on the executive board and fatality review panel of the Western Judicial Circuit Domestic Violence Task Force since 2016, and Scartz currently chairs the Firearms Surrender Protocol Committee of the Task Force. A School of Law alumna, Scartz is no stranger to the law school and its experiential learning programs. In 1994, she founded the Protective Order Project under the Public Interest Practicum, where she served as a managing attorney in the Western Judicial Circuit. Following graduation from law school, she received a National Association of Public Interest Law Equal Justice Fellowship, which allowed her to continue her work filing protective orders for indigent victims of domestic violence in the Western Judicial Circuit. During this time, she also served as an adjunct instructor with the school’s Public Interest Practicum and Civil Clinics, where she instructed and supervised law students working with clinic clients. In 1998, her work evolved into what has become today’s Jane W. Wilson Family Justice Clinic. Scartz earned her bachelor’s degree in history and French, with distinction, from the University of Virginia. She obtained her law degree magna cum laude from UGA, where she was inducted into the Order of the Coif.
Program Director – Crime Victims Advocacy Council (CVAC)
Candace Sims is a National Credited Advocate through NCVC, and Program Director for Crime Victim Advocacy Council, Inc. (CVAC). A mother of a murdered son since 2007, she has learned how to advocate for many parents of murdered children. She hosts Group Support for Cobb County VWAP, Harbor Grace Hospice, and The Tapestries Group, which she founded. She also trains individuals on how to host Group Support. Certified through International Coaches Federation (ICF), she offers one-on-one grief coaching that many people find as beneficial as therapeutic counseling.
Existing Board Members:
Chief Executive Officer - Haven of Light International, Inc.
Motley has been nationally recognized for her success as a dedicated leader for victims’ rights and healing. In her first few years as a leading domestic violence advocate, she received a commendation from former Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and was named an Everyday Hero by The Investigation Discovery Channel for her work in her pursuit of equal rights for victims. As a result of her work in the state of Georgia, Motley was awarded the Gender Justice Award by the Georgia Commission on Family Violence in September 2019. In addition, Motley is the author of Born of Violence, a memoir which within a month of its release made it to number four on the Amazon Hot New Releases List for Partner Abuse and has been featured on Good Day Atlanta. Born of Violence is not only an inspiring account of survival, but it is also a moving call to action for victims of domestic violence.
Muhammad, a Decatur, Georgia resident, has been involved with Marsy’s Law for Georgia before implementation. In August 2020, she was honored with a challenge coin because of her extraordinary dedication to assisting crime victims during the COVID-19 outbreak and raising awareness of the issues they face during this time. In June 2020, she helped pen a letter to Chief Justice Harold D. Melton of the Supreme Court of Georgia asking him to deem crime victims’ cases as “essential” when the Georgia Courts reopened in July. Muhammad also participated in a Facebook Live series, “Why We Do What We Do,” for Marsy’s Law for All in July 2020 to discuss her involvement with the organization.
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, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.