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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Ensuring Victims’ Rights are Part of the Equation

March 21, 2015

In a complex case in Oregon, the family of a homicide victim has been waiting for court action for two years.  The parties, the court, and the State Hospital have continued to disagree about whether the defendant can stand trial.  This disagreement has left the victim’s family in limbo.  As this stalemate was being moved to the appellate level, the missing voice was that of the victim’s family.  Fortunately, Tara Lawrence, a former Oregon District Attorney with a private practice focused on victims and victims’ rights, stepped up and undertook representation of the victims and invited NCVLI to join her.  Together we filed an amici curaie brief.  Amici took no position with regard to actual determination of competency but instead reminded the Court that victims’ constitutional and statutory rights–including the rights to be treated with fairness, to justice, and to speedy disposition–are necessary to a fair and proper determination in the case.  Ensuring that victims’ rights are a part of legal equations rather than mere afterthoughts or platitudes in our criminal justice system is critical to ensuring a fair and just system!