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Criminal Law and Justice

Criminal Law News

This group of events, news, and resources comes directly from National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) and the student chapter of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Criminal Law News & Resources

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    Read about NCVLI’s advocacy efforts this month.
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    The 2018 Conference is SOLD OUT!
  • Announcing the 2018 Outstanding Achievement Honorees!
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  • NCVLI partnered with the Washington Coalition of Crime Victim Advocates on two trainings last week in Vancouver, Washington!
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    Check out the latest Conference updates including our extended Early Bird pricing!
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    The Arizona Voice for Crime Victims and NCVLI’a legal team partner on Arizona restitution case.
  • Appellant, a crime victim, filed a claim in the trial court pursuant to Oregon Revised Statute 147.515 alleging that the trial court violated her right as a crime victim to be heard when it sentenced defendant on various domestic violence crimes committed against the victim. Specifically, the victim claimed that the trial court violated Article I, section 42(1)(a) of the Oregon Constitution—which affords a crime victim the right “to be heard at * * * the sentencing”—when the trial court interrupted her victim impact statement and later terminated the statement without warning or explanation.  The trial court denied the claim, and the victim appealed.  On appeal, the court accepted, for purposes of the case, that a victim’s right to be heard at sentencing is similar to a defendant’s right of allocution.  The court continued, explaining that a trial court may prevent a defendant from making irrelevant or unfairly prejudicial statements in an allocution and may impose reasonable time limits on a defendant’s allocution, even if the defendant’s statements are relevant and not unfairly prejudicial, in order to ensure that the sentencing proceeding is orderly and expeditious.  Under Oregon statute, a crime victim has the right at sentencing to “reasonably express any views concerning the crime, the person responsible, the impact of the crime on the victim, and the need for restitution and compensatory fines.”  The court found that the trial court’s interruptions did not violate the victim’s right to be heard.  The court noted that the first interruption was to direct the victim not to go into detail about an uncharged crime, and the second was to instruct her not to describe any additional online comments made by others about defendant.  The court concluded that the trial court had the authority and responsibility to conduct the hearing as an orderly and expeditious proceeding, and did not abuse its discretion when it limited the victim’s statement in order to focus on the charged crimes and her own experiences with defendant.  The court further concluded that the interruptions did not prejudice the victim because she continued with her statement as prepared after the interruptions.  The victim also argued that the trial court violated her right to be heard when it terminated her victim impact statement.  The court described that at the time the trial court terminated her statement, she was describing facts that were relevant to the sentencing proceeding, in that she was discussing defendant’s family background, and how he does not have, and has not had, the kind of family support that would keep him from committing similar offenses in the future.  The court also noted that the statements were not beyond any limitation the trial court imposed on her earlier—she was not discussing uncharged crimes or relaying others’ comments about defendant.  Because the victim’s statements were relevant to sentencing and not outside the limits the trial court had imposed, and because the trial court provided no other reason for the termination and none were apparent from the record, the court concluded that the trial court violated the victim’s constitutional right to be heard when it terminated her victim impact statement.  The court continued: “Although we hold that appellant’s constitutional right to be heard was violated in this case, we do not hold that a trial court cannot place reasonable limits on the content and length of a victim impact statement. A victim’s right to be heard, like a defendant’s right of allocution, remains subject to the trial court’s authority to ensure that the information presented is relevant and not unfairly prejudicial and that the sentencing is orderly and expeditious.”  The court also concluded that: “To accommodate both the victim’s constitutional right to be heard and the need for orderly and properly focused hearings, a court attempting to limit an overly detailed or long statement should inform the victim of reasonable and appropriate limitations on the content and length of the statement, so the victim has the opportunity to conform the statement to the limits imposed by the court.”  The court further noted that if the victim disregards the instruction, the court has discretion to terminate the statement.  Turning to remedy, the court determined that the victim was entitled to a new sentencing hearing conducted in accordance with her constitutional rights.  Defendant’s sentence was vacated and the case remanded for resentencing.

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Criminal Law and Justice

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    Criminal Law Program is located in Lewis & Clark Law School on the Law Campus.

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    voice 503-768-6721

    Chair, Criminal Law Committee Aliza Kaplan

    • Criminal Law Program Lewis & Clark Law School 10015 S.W. Terwilliger BoulevardMSC 51 Portland OR 97219