- Marsy’s Law for Georgia Requests the State’s Judicial System Designate the Protection of Victims’ Rights as an “Essential Function”
- Marsy’s Law wants victims’ rights protected when courts
are projected to reopen on July 14
Marsy’s Law for Georgia, a victims’ rights group which helped to pass a Constitutional Amendment in November 2018 that gives crime victims equal rights, has written a letter requesting the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, Harold D. Melton, designate the protection of victims’ rights as an “essential function” of the judicial system when Georgia courts reopen on July 14.
On March 14, 2020, in response to COVID-19, Chief Justice Melton issued an Order Declaring a Statewide Judicial Emergency, closing many of the courts and only allowing hearings for essential and critical matters, along with virtual hearings. The order was planned to end on May 13, but due to changes by the state of Georgia regarding the pandemic it was extended to June 12 at 11:59 p.m. On June 12, the Georgia Supreme Court released another update announcing July 14, 2020 as the new date for courts to reopen. When courts reopen on July 14, they are to operate under certain restrictions and guidelines to ensure the health and safety of individuals and only allow certain court hearings.
In response to the planned reopening of Georgia courts next month, Marsy’s Law for Georgia advisory board member Beverly Muhammad penned a letter recommending the state designate the protection of victims’ rights as an “essential function” of the judicial system, and specifically stated Article I, Section I of the Constitution as amended guarantees victims the right to be heard at proceedings involving the release, plea or sentencing of the accused, and the right, upon request, to reasonable, accurate and timely notice of such proceedings. Muhammad went onto write that victims of crime have an explicit constitutional right to assert and seek enforcement of their rights by motion within the criminal or delinquency proceeding. To read the entire letter, click here.
“On behalf, of Marsy’s Law for Georgia, I am honored to sign this letter and send to the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court,” said Beverly Muhammad. “When courts reopen, I believe it is essential for crime victims to receive their full rights under Marsy’s Law, but in a safe and healthy manner,” she added.