State appeals ruling on victims' rights measure

By The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court has scheduled arguments next week in a legal battle about a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at expanding the rights of crime victims.

Justices on Tuesday said they will hear arguments Sept. 5, after Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office quickly appealed a circuit judge's ruling that would knock the proposed constitutional amendment off the November ballot.

Bondi’s office filed a notice of appeal late Monday at the 1st District Court of Appeal, which then forwarded the case to the Supreme Court --- a move known as certifying the case to the Supreme Court, according to court records.

Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers on Monday rejected the proposed constitutional amendment, which would expand rights for crime victims, raise the retirement age for judges and change the way laws and rules are interpreted in judicial proceedings.

Gievers, siding with challengers including the League of Women Voters of Florida, focused on issues involving victims’ rights and said the ballot title and summary --- the wording that voters see when they go to the polls --- would not meet legal requirements to “fully, fairly and accurately” inform voters about the purpose of the proposed amendment.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission this spring placed the amendment on the November ballot.

The proposal has become commonly known as “Marsy’s Law,” as its attempts to expand crime victims’ rights are part of a broader national effort.

That effort stems from the 1983 death of a California woman, Marsy Nicholas, who was stalked and killed by an ex-boyfriend.

But Gievers ruled, in part, that the ballot title and summary would not adequately explain to voters how the proposed constitutional amendment would affect the rights of people accused of crimes.

News Service of Florida