Marsy's Law approved by voters, wording on ballot still in question

Published: Nov. 7, 2018 at 5:53 PM CST
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Tuesday's election included the passing of Marsy's Law, which appeared on the ballot.


voted in favor of making it a constitutional amendment many people are finding the wording on the ballot controversial. It reads as followed:

"Are you in favor of providing constitutional rights to victims of crime, including the right to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect, and the right to be informed and to have a voice in the judicial process?"

"No one with a soul would have ever said no to that question," said Alan Simpson, a Bowling Green defense attorney.

The Marsy's Law article declaring the results was the the #1 post on WBKO's Facebook page in a 24 hour time span, reaching almost 50,000 people with over 258 shares and over 150 comments (and counting), many who commented were concerned about the wording on Tuesday's ballot.

"The wording on the ballot is why it passed. If I'd not known the consequences of passing the bill I would've voted yes too," said one commenter.

Another wrote, "Of course it many people didn't read about what this law is and the wording on the ballot was very misleading." ​

"A lot of people feel like they've been misled," said Jessie Cline, who voted against Marsy's Law. "People that I have seen and talked to, weren't aware of what it actually was. In my honest opinion, it should have been written Marsy's Law on there."

The Senate Bill 3 sponsor, Senator Whitney Westerfield says the wording was sufficient.

"I think it sufficiently described what we're trying to do - give victims an opportunity to be treated with fairness and dignity in the process," he said.

Several weeks before Tuesday's election, a Kentucky judge ruled the wording on the ballot as too vague.

"The actual constitutional amendment is 550 words and there's 40 lines of text. What was on the ballot was 38 words, one sentence, one question," said Simpson.

Sen. Westerfield said the length and description was not an issue.

"It's not necessary to put the entire amendment on the ballot," said Sen. Westerfield. "In fact, You might actually create more confusion and misunderstanding by putting the entirety of the constitutional amendment on the ballot."

One common question about the law was, 'doesn't Kentucky already have a victims bill of rights?'

"That's not true statutory rights do exist for certain crime victims," said Sen. Westerfield.

Others argue that resources like the Vine system are already in place.

"It updates the victims and lets them know when there's court cases, let's them know when the suspects are coming out," said Cline.

Another concern involved the proof of actual innocence.

"Lots of times when we find that a trial is over, we find out that, the actual complaining witness was not a victim - they may have been the perpetrator and the defendant was actually the victim so there are some concerns about flip flopping the presumption of innocence," said Simpson.

Even though Kentuckians voted in favor of Marsy's Law Tuesday, the Kentucky Supreme Court will make the ultimate decision.

"They're considering whether the question itself as posed to the voters was constitutional," said Alison Lundergan Grimes, Secretary of State (KY).

Regardless of the outcome, Marsy's Law advocates say they will not give up.

"We'll rewrite it if that's what the supreme court decides," said Sen. Westerfield.

A lot of buzz around social media is that Marsy's Law would adversely affect laws that protect people defending themselves. However, one attorney says it will likely not be affected if Marsy's Law goes into place.

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