Battle Brewing Over Ohio's Congressional Map, And The Pros And Cons Of Crime Victims' Rights Issue

The looming fight over Ohio’s Congressional district map is coming closer each day, and Republican state legislative leaders have formed a bipartisan group to create a new way to draw that map. For the second time in a month, the Ohio Supreme Court is hearing a case involving laws on abortion clinics in the 2013 state budget. State lawmakers overrode six of Gov. John Kasich’s 47 budget vetoes, but one headline-making veto may survive – the one that stops a plan to ask the federal government to increase the tax on managed care organizations. The horrible kidnapping, rape and murder of an Ohio State student as she left work in February has sparked a bipartisan effort to keep felons behind bars longer if they are violent in prison.

The first question on the statewide ballot goes directly to crime and the rights of victims. Issue 1 is also known as Marsy’s Law, named for a California woman who was stalked and murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. The Ohio amendment would put certain victims’ rights in the Constitution, including rights to privacy, to information about services; to notification of proceedings, release and escape of the accused; to be present at legal proceedings; to a prompt conclusion; to refuse discovery requests; to protection and to restitution. Issue 1 sounds easy to support – but it leaves legal experts with mixed feelings.  Cathy Harper Lee is the executive director Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center. She and crime victim Stacey Stevens, a teacher from Franklin County, say they want critics to understand why it’s important to put these right into the constitution. But John Murphy with the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys’ Association has some concerns with Issue 1. Not all prosecutors are against the issue – 13 have endorsed the proposal, including Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien. But state public defender Tim Young is lining up with Murphy and the prosecutors’ association, which is, to put it mildly, an unusual occurrence.

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