California Initiatives – Yes On 12, No On 9

Continuing the theme of matching support and opposition, I’m supporting Proposition 12 and opposing Proposition 9. Prop 12 authorizes $900 million in new Cal-Vet bonds. Cal-Vet is a program that provides home and farm loans to California veterans; the program has been very successful, hasn’t (to date) lost money, and has helped people who served the country. What’s not to like? It has the added benefit of injecting capital into the housing markets at a time when that could be a useful thing. Here’s the Contra Costa Times:

While the state is legally responsible for paying back the bond money, it has never had to use taxpayer money, even during the Great Depression of the 1930s, to cover the cost of a defaulted loan. J.P. Tremblay, deputy secretary for the California Department of Veterans Affairs, said, “The state has never had to come in and bail out this fund.”

Proposition 9 proposes to change the criminal laws to – among other things – give the victims of crimes a say in sentencing, parole hearings and other parts of the criminal justice process.

I’m all about retributive justice, but this goes way too far for me. The goal is to move justice away from personal vengeance and hand the rights over to the impersonal state. As long as the state does a decent job – and I think our justice system does a decent, not great, job (we’re not the UK, where resisting burglars in a crime), I can’t support these kinds of changes.

Here is some of the language this would add to the codes – the parts I particularly object to are in bold:

(b) In order to preserve and protect a victim’s rights to justice and due process, a victim shall be entitled to the following rights:

(1) To be treated with fairness and respect for his or her privacy and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse, throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process.

(2) To be reasonably protected from the defendant and persons acting on behalf of the defendant.

(3) To have the safety of the victim and the victim’s family considered in fixing the amount of bail and release conditions for the defendant.

(4) To prevent the disclosure of confidential information or records to the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, or any other person acting on behalf of the defendant, which could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim’s family or which disclose confidential communications made in the course of medical or counseling treatment, or which are otherwise privileged or confidential by law.

(5) To refuse an interview, deposition, or discovery request by the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, or any other person acting on behalf of the defendant, and to set reasonable conditions on the conduct of any such interview to which the victim consents.

(6) To reasonable notice of and to reasonably confer with the prosecuting agency, upon request, regarding, the arrest of the defendant if known by the prosecutor, the charges filed, the determination whether to extradite the defendant, and, upon request, to be notified of and informed before any pretrial disposition of the case.

(7) To reasonable notice of all public proceedings, including delinquency proceedings, upon request, at which the defendant and the prosecutor are entitled to be present and of all parole or other post-conviction release proceedings, and to be present at all such proceedings.

(8) To be heard, upon request, at any proceeding, including any delinquency proceeding, involving a post-arrest release decision, plea, sentencing, postconviction release decision, or any proceeding in which a right of the victim is at issue.

(9) To a speedy trial and a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related post-judgment proceedings.

(10) To provide information to a probation department official conducting a pre-sentence investigation concerning the impact of the offense on the victim and the victim’s family and any sentencing recommendations before the sentencing of the defendant.

(11) To receive, upon request, the pre-sentence report when available to the defendant, except for those portions made confidential by law.

(12) To be informed, upon request, of the conviction, sentence, place and time of incarceration, or other disposition of the defendant, the scheduled release date of the defendant, and the release of or the escape by the defendant from custody.

So Yes on 12, and No on 9.

8 thoughts on “California Initiatives – Yes On 12, No On 9”

  1. Why would you object to protecting the victim from _legal_ intimidation by the defendant? That is quite as frightening and disruptive to ordinary life as explicit threats of harm to the victim or victim’s family.

  2. If you’ve never read this article ” “A grief like no other”:http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/97sep/grief.htm ” by Eric Schlosser (fast food nation) it’s a long dark road towards explaining what life is like for families recovering from murder; and for a call for ‘victim’s rights’ amendments. Of note: it’s extremely sad, and crushingly depressing, and long (I think it’s two parts). It also goes through the history of legal retributions, (even back to the dark ages).

    I’m not too familiar with California’s laws, but reading through the above, it seems like it follows along several chords.

  3. The judge is in charge of the discovery process. If the defendant is attempting to intimidate the victim via abuse of the discovery process, I expect the judge to take action, including sanctioning the defendant and denying further discovery (not to mention that most defendants don’t like pissing off a judge directly before a trial!)

    At the same time, the defendant does have a right to confront his accusers; this is why victims can be compelled to testify during the trial. To the extent that the case involves pre-trial discovery, I expect that the defendant would have access to reasonable discovery action, and that the judge would limit any such discovery in a reasonable fashion.

    However, AL’s objection is more or less the same as mine. There’s no real need to enshrine “victim’s rights” into the legal process. To the extent that victims desire to be free from intimidation by a defendant, that sort of thing is already illegal. To the extent that the victim wants to keep informed about the progress of the case, okay, well, that’s not a huge problem. To the extent that the victim wants to inject themselves into the legal process, now… what for? I expect justice to be done whether the victim is a crying mommy or a cold, unsympathetic bastard. Justice is blind, remember?

    There’s also the prospect of people using this process to abuse others. If I was involved in divorce proceedings, and there’s tactical advantage to the wife filing charges of abuse because then she is an officially accorded “victim” and can refuse to talk to me or my lawyer, don’t you think that sort of thing will happen?

  4. #3 from Avatar”

    bq. _”There’s also the prospect of people using this process to abuse others. If I was involved in divorce proceedings, and there’s tactical advantage to the wife filing charges of abuse because then she is an officially accorded “victim” and can refuse to talk to me or my lawyer, don’t you think that sort of thing will happen?”_

    Yes. That’s right.

    I’m finding this two-point by two-point discussion fascinating. With the exception of the usual sniping over some hot button social issues, it’s a good look at how other people of reason and good will, upholding similar values such as Armed Liberal and I have on self-defense, decide to vote the opposite way on the same propositions.

  5. _At the same time, the defendant does have a right to confront his accusers; this is why victims can be compelled to testify during the trial_

    I agree; I think a right to refuse depositions and discovery would run afoul of the “Sixth Amendment”:http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/rights1.asp#6 of the U.S. Constitution. Giving the victim a right to a speedy trial may have similar problems. The accused has a right to a speedy trial, and if he/she is waiving that right, it’s most likely because he/she is unprepared to defend him or herself.

    I don’t like a lot of other things about the Proposal as well. Much of the language is too soft. Treating victims with fairness sounds nice. What does it mean? To me it means unending arguments. Better are provisions that require a particular act, like giving the victim a pre-sentence report at a given time. However, if I were a Californian I would be concerned that the State will be liable in some sort of civil rights suit for not distributing forms promptly.

    I don’t like the involvement of the victim in what strikes me as litigation strategy. The victim may be a stakeholder, but that doesn’t make the victim a juris doctorate. Giving the victim the right to confer and be heard in any proceeding raises the risk of endangering legal strategy and losing the case. Which goes to the second problem, the prosecutor represents the people, not the victim.

    Better would be the creation of victim assistants to help the victim understand the process and to interview the victim to make sure the prosecutor is aware of special safety concerns.

  6. I’ve changed my mind. The details Armed Liberal presented are so important and the arguments in this thread are so good I now think it would be better for Proposition #9 to be defeated.

  7. Why wouldn’t people support our veterans? They have risked their lives to protect this country, and we should give them chances and ways to better themselves. The socialist illuminati want to give away our money for people on welfare, and who are they protecting but themselves?

  8. #7 from Ms. Know:

    bq. _”Why wouldn’t people support our veterans? They have risked their lives to protect this country, and we should give them chances and ways to better themselves.”_

    You’re right. More to the point, Armed Liberal is right about the good history of this program. So I’ve changed my mind about Proposition 12 too.

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