No contest on Issue 1: Voters say give crime victims more rights


Issue 1, a constitutional amendment to beef up rights for crime victims, cruised to an easy win Tuesday with backing from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and a captivating story by a billionaire whose sister was murdered.

“It is truly a great privilege and an honor to see the voters of Ohio so overwhelmingly crush the opposition in passing this,” said Henry T. Nicholas III, a native of Cincinnati and founder of the issue known as Marsy’s Law. The law is named after Nicholas’s sister, Marsalee, who was murdered by an ex-boyfriend in California in 1983.

Nicholas said he was elated and ecstatic as returns showed Issue 1 winning with more than 80 percent of the vote.

“We have got a just cause and it’s not just enough to amend the constitution. It takes hard work and leadership and commitment from many people, as you all know,” he said while thanking supporters.

DeWine, a Republican who is running for governor, co-chaired the campaign. “Tonight’s historic vote is a huge step forward for all Ohioans, and the result of years of hard work by crime victim advocates,” he said in a statement. “We thank Dr. Henry Nicholas, Marsy’s brother, for finally bringing equal rights for crime victims to our state.”

State Issue 1 will give victims or anyone harmed by a crime the right to receive notifications, give input in court proceedings and receive full and timely restitution. Victims would also be allowed to refuse discovery requests made by the defense, be guaranteed privacy and reasonable protection, and have a right to “prompt conclusion of the case.”

RELATED: Crime victims seek more rights in Ohio

Nicholas bankrolled the campaign, as he has in other states. Voters in California, Illinois, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota have all adopted Marsy’s Law. The win in Ohio was the movement’s biggest yet and bolsters plans to push for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Nicholas said.

“The fact that you’re able now to have standing, if there is some injustice, you have the ability to go before the judge and plead your case,” Nicholas said.

The amendment did have some opposition. Two groups that often oppose each other — the Ohio Public Defender and the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association — say state law already provides protections for crime victims, and they argued that State Issue 1 has the potential to add costs and delays to the criminal justice system.

RELATED: Billionaire wants Ohio crime victims rights protected

Their pleas were ignored by voters.

Issue 1 supporter Andrea Rehkamp of Oxford got involved in the crime victims rights movement after her 15-year-old son Ken Watson was killed by a drunken driver in 1981. Rehkamp said “Back in 1981, there were no victim rights in Ohio at all. There was basically no drunk driving bills in Ohio, or very few.”

Rehkamp and others worked to pass a constitutional amendment in 1994 to guarantee rights such as victim notification of court proceedings. But, she said, the old law lacks enforcement.

“I think the enforcement and restitution mechanisms will help a great many victims for years ahead,” she said. “I think it’s going to give victims a sense there is justice for them in the criminal justice system.”

Cathy Harper Lee, a supporter of Marsy’s Law for Ohio, said the day has come where victims have a criminal justice system that is truly fair and balanced.

Nicholas said he sees fighting for victim rights as duty and obligation. “Often times, it’s not fun. It’s very difficult as a family member of a crime victim to deal with it. There are times when I see my sister’s picture on the buttons that we have, it’s hard.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

VA may expand private health care choices for veterans
VA may expand private health care choices for veterans

Veterans will have expanded private health care options under legislation passed by Congress, but some critics contend it could lead to more privatization of VA services. The measure was part of a sweeping $51 billion VA bill that would institute reforms within the federal agency. The Senate passed the measure in 92-5 vote this week, which continued...
Trump says N. Korea summit may be back on; Ohio lawmakers react
Trump says N. Korea summit may be back on; Ohio lawmakers react

President Donald Trump on Friday warmly welcomed North Korea’s promising response to his abrupt withdrawal from the potentially historic Singapore summit and said “we’re talking to them now” about putting it back on track. “Everybody plays games,” said Trump, who often boasts about his own negotiating tactics and...
Facebook and Twitter plan new ways to regulate political ads
Facebook and Twitter plan new ways to regulate political ads

Facebook and Twitter announced plans Thursday to increase transparency of political campaign ads, changes aimed at preventing foreign manipulation of the coming midterm elections.  Facebook said it would begin including a “paid for” label on the top of any political ads in the United States. Clicking on the label will take people to...
NRA host calls for legislation to limit reporting on mass shooters. Then he says he didn’t mean it.
NRA host calls for legislation to limit reporting on mass shooters. Then he says he didn’t mean it.

In the days after a shooter killed 10 people at a Texas high school, National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch joined a chorus of conservatives in spotlighting a subject to blame that didn't involve guns.  "The media has got to stop creating more of these monsters by oversaturation," Loesch said on the NRA's television station...
GOP immigration rebels push ahead despite Trump veto pledge
GOP immigration rebels push ahead despite Trump veto pledge

House advocates for moderate immigration policies stood at the cusp of forcing votes on bills that would give young undocumented immigrants a pathway to U.S. citizenship — even as President Trump threatened to veto any legislation that did not hew to his hard-line views.  Backers of a rare procedural maneuver that would spark an immigration...
More Stories