RENO, Nev (KOLO) “Question One,” otherwise known as “Marsy's Law,” asks the voter:
“Should the Nevada Constitution be amended to remove existing provisions that require the legislature to provide certain statutory rights for all victims and adopt in their place certain expressly stated constitutional rights that crime victims may assert throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process?"
The bill is named after Marsalee or Marsy Nicholas, who was stalked and killed by her boyfriend in California in 1983.
Her parents walked into the accused while in the grocery store one week after her burial. He had been let out on bail, without Marsy's parents' knowledge.
The incident spurred a movement to get victims' rights laws implemented throughout the country.
“Making sure that victims are treated the same whether you live in Reno or Las Vegas, or Winnemucca or Ely. We want to make sure regardless of what your zip code is, you have the same rights,” says Will Batista, State Director for Marsy’s Law for Nevada.
The proposal, if passed, will give crime victims rights beyond what is already in the Nevada Constitution--beyond being informed of hearings, being present during critical criminal proceedings, to be heard at sentencing and upon release.
In addition, Marsy's law would include, among other things, allowing a victim to consult with the prosecution about the case, be treated with fairness and respect void of intimidation, to have the victim and victim's family safety considered before bond or parole is set, and to refuse a deposition or interview unless under court order.
“A number of the features of this constitutional amendment are already in Nevada Law. I have not heard anything about it not working well,” says Reno defense attorney Marty Wiener.
Wiener says he's not against victim's rights. But he believes these new expanded rights may result in unintended consequences. Instead of a constitutional amendment, he says he'd like to see these laws passed by the state legislature.
“What I am worried about is creating a constitutional list of rights for victims. That can't be changed easily,” says Wiener.
But Batista says that’s exactly the point
“You will have strong and enforceable constitutional rights in the state of Nevada,” says Batista.
Question One has already passed the state legislature twice. Because of that, it only needs voter approval once. If that happens, the Nevada Constitution will be altered, and no other action needs to be taken.