November 6 Florida Election Results, Part I: Amendment 6, Rights Of Crime Victims
In this two-part series, we discuss some of the important measures that were passed during the November 6 elections and what this means Floridians’ civil rights. One of those measures was Amendment 6, which creates a bill of rights for crime victims and establishes new requirements for judges. Modeled after California’s Marsy’s Law, the law mandates that prosecutors and law enforcement keep victims’ families informed of what is happening during the prosecution of defendants.
While Florida’s constitution already provides victims with the right to be informed and heard, there was previously a provision indicating that this could only be guaranteed “when these rights do not interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused.” Now, victims of crime have 11 very explicit rights, including the right to be free from intimidation and harassment, protection from the accused, and the right to safety considerations when authorities set bail—as well as others—regardless of effects on the accused. For these reasons, both the League of Women Voters and the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union opposed it.
Was It Misleading? Does It Violate the Rights of the Accused?
However, a number of individuals are concerned that both the ballot title and summary were misleading to voters; Specifically, that the measure has a significant impact on a defendant’s appeals process and right to a speedy trial but was not explicit about these effects. It would reportedly be difficult to change and adds brief appeals deadlines that are impractical to stay on top of. Some have even gone so far as to claim that the amendment infringed on voters’ rights to exercise a free and meaningful vote.
Second, Completely Unrelated Aspect of Amendment 6 and the Issue of “Logrolling”
The second part of the new law increases the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75 and requires that hearing officers and judges interpret rules and statutes themselves instead of automatically deferring to government agencies.
In addition to potentially misleading titles and summaries, many are also concerned about “logrolling,” or combining two completely different issues into one amendment. It has become such a concern for some here in Florida that it is currently the subject of an ongoing case brought by retired Supreme Court chief justice Harry Lee Anstead against former Elections commissioner Robert Barnas.
Contact Our Experienced Florida Criminal Defense & Civil Rights Attorneys
While Florida’s state constitution does not limit how many subjects CRC amendment can include, some are concerned that Amendment 6 specifically dumps too much additional responsibility onto the justice system as well.
If your rights as a criminal defendant may have been violated, contact the Baez Law Firm today to find out how our experienced criminal defense and civil rights attorneys can help.