Op-Ed

Ky. victim’s rights bill would make courts slower, less fair

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One way to defeat Islamic terrorism is for us to adopt Sharia law here. That way they won’t have to fight us.

That strategy is being cheerled by the General Assembly, well on its way to passing a law named after Marsy, somebody most unfortunate, yet irresistible to the elected.

We don’t have the time to bother with raising enough money to pay the state’s bills, but all those elected have to go home and say they are for something. Hence, Marsy’s Law, a “reform” which will do as much to disrupt our judicial system as the foolish stuff the legislature did in the ’70s and ’80s when they passed laws saying that everything not mandatory is illegal — resulting in more crime, not less.

This law is called the Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights, or some other righteous appellation. Quite simply, it will, almost immediately put politics in the courtroom, turning them into places of struggle between red and blue.

If, as the law requires, victims of crime can appear at all hearings and argue, then each and every matter a judge has to decide will come down to her having to follow the Constitution in the face of a clamoring mob or widow, and risk the politics of ruling for the guy in the orange suit.

The prosecution will be red or conservative and the public defender will probably be, or look like, a liberal.

This silly piece of legislation has some almost comical stuff in it. For example it gives a wide range of people who hang with the victim a constitutional right not to be talked to by the attorney for the accused.

It requires courts to fit victims, and I guess there could be a dozen in each case, into the scheduling of matters, which will tie up courts for weeks along with a guarantee that there will be no delay in getting the case over with in time for the election.

Maybe it will not be so bad.

If victims are going to control courts, they will have to be bought off and most can. The rich will walk and the poor will be housed at our expense so that some politician can brag.

I am coming on a half century of appearances before the judges of Kentucky and the extent to which red county district and circuit judges ignore the Constitution on such things as bail is terrifying.

In the heart of the Fifth District, judges let the prosecutor control the court system, and hold people who are presumed innocent on bail bonds no poor person could make.

I used to drive the late John Paul Runyon, prosecutor, half crazy when I appealed to Christians on the jury by arguing that the prosecution of crime is an Old Testament function and the defense of criminals is a New Testament function. That argument may be true, but legislators prefer Leviticus to John.

Criminals would probably fashion a more effective criminal-justice system than victims. The state will no doubt be the victim of the rottenness of conduct which Thomas Jefferson observed in men who cast their eye on public office.

Reach Larry Webster, a Pikeville attorney, at websterlawrence@bellsouth.net.

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