Procedural Rights


Victims' Procedural Rights Must Be Guaranteed By The Constitution

For over 100 years, the Oregon Constitution, like the United States Constitution, guaranteed the rights of criminal defendants and convicted criminals, but said nothing about the victims of crime. In the past several decades, the need for constitutional rights for crime victims has become apparent, as common sense on matters of criminal justice gave way to an ideology that dismissed personal accountability and neglected the duty of a community to protect its innocent citizens.

The rights that crime victims are seeking include:

Rights such as these have been placed in the constitutions of 32 states, most via referendums, with the margin of support ranging from 58% to 92%.

In Oregon, these rights are especially crucial because the criminal justice playing field has been severely tilted by an Oregon Supreme Court dominated by pro-criminal judges.

In 1986, Crime Victims United sponsored a ballot measure to grant these rights to crime victims through statutory (non-constitutional) law. The ballot measure was approved by voters. Judges promptly ignored the law and defense attorneys promptly attacked it in the Oregon Supreme Court. From this, CVU learned the bitter lesson that these rights need to be in the Oregon Constitution.

In 1996, Crime Victims United and other groups sponsored Measure 40 to put crime victims rights in the Oregon Constitution. This ballot measure passed with by a margin of 59% to 41%. Once again, judges ignored it and defense attorneys attacked it. In June of 1998, defense attorneys and the Oregon ACLU succeeded in getting the Oregon Supreme Court to overturn Measure 40 on narrow technical grounds.

In 1999, Crime Victims United and other groups sponsored Measures 69-75 to put these rights back in the Oregon Constitution. This led to a bitter election campaign in which the ACLU and defense attorneys set up a fraudulent group called "Crime Victims For Justice". They used inaccurate, far-fetched, and misleading arguments in an attempt to scare and confuse Oregon voters. Measure 69, the measure which embodied the rights listed above, passed by a 59% to 41% margin. Opponents of the measure, including those who fraudulently claimed to speak for crime victims, promptly announced that they would fight these rights in court.

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