Marsy's Law: seeking equal rights for victims

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- "I'm always looking over my shoulder, we're always scared," says Katie Haynes, a Reno resident who got out of an abusive relationship last year. She says the last time her ex-boyfriend threw her down the stairs, her daughter called 911 and saved her life. After that, her ex-boyfriend was put in jail. Just thinking about what she lived through and the trauma it still causes her has her tearing up.

"It's just terrifying," she says.

That's why she and others are speaking out in favor of Marsy's Law, which is a proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee enforceable rights to crime victims. Among them, the right to be protected by the defendant, the right to notice of all public proceedings in the case, and the right to be heard, upon request, at all public proceedings regarding the case.

"My voice would be heard. I would be there for all the steps; I would be able to talk to somebody rather than just being sent to the prosecutor. I feel like I'm just there for the last steps," says Haynes.

Marcy's Law was first approved by Nevada lawmakers in 2015 and again in 2017 as required by Nevada law for a constitutional amendment. The measure now goes to the voters this November; they will see it on the ballot as Question 1. The proposal already has the support of some of the top law enforcement officers and prosecutors in Northern Nevada.

"It will give victims of crime the information they need, it will afford them the dignity and respect they so deserve after being yanked into a difficult system," says Chris Hicks, Washoe County District Attorney.

Marsy's Law is named after Marsalee Nicholas, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in California in 1983. Marsy's Law measures have been passed in several states including California and Illinois.