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National Crime Victim Law Institute

NCVLI Advocates for Victims to have Meaningful Participation

December 22, 2011

In December, with the help of NAVRA attorney Mike Fell, NCVLI filed an amicus curiae brief in the case of State v. Peterson.  We are fighting for the rights of all crime victims in California to be treated fairly so that they can meaningfully participate in the cases against their offenders! 

In the case, defendant is charged with unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor as well as a number of other sexual offenses, all felonies.  The victim and her mother each want to actively participate in the case and yet the prosecution has taken the position that the victims are not entitled to see certain case information (including the police report) because a protective order is in place.  This means that everyone else in the case (the defense, prosecution, and court) can see things about the crime but the victims, the people most impacted, are left in the dark. 

Article I, Section 28 of California’s Constitution (Marsy’s Law) provides victims of crimes with seventeen enumerated rights.  Among these are the rights to confer with the prosecution, to be heard, and to be treated with fairness.  In our brief we argued that to effectuate these rights in a meaningful manner, as due process requires, victims must be given access to all necessary information—that is, information that allows the victims to be sufficiently informed so as to make their views known to the prosecution and the court and to allow them to participate effectively in the case when their rights are implicated.  We know that there may be countervailing interests at stake as well, such as privacy and protection, but courts are routinely asked to consider a myriad of rights.  We asked the court to be sure to give due weight to the victims’ rights under Marsy’s Law.

NAVRA attorney Todd Spitzer, a California attorney who regularly represents victims of crime and who is Director, Legal Affairs, Marsy’s Law for All, is representing one of the victims in the case and fighting for victim discovery in this and other cases in California.


Our amicus briefs educate the courts about how their decisions will impact victims and move us a step closer to ensuring that each case fulfills its potential to improve the landscape for future victims by setting positive legal precedent.  Donate today to help us build a better future for victims!