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Marsy's Law

KACDL is disappointed in the outcome of the vote but we honor the process and remain proud that our work in 2018 required voters to be presented with the text of the amendment instead of a misleading question. KACDL still strongly advises that this constitutional amendment comes with convoluted consequences and will not be an adequate answer to problems victims face. KACDL’s grave concerns about this amendment’s potential impact on Kentucky’s justice system remain.

Vote NO on Constitutional Amendment #1

September 30, 2020

Ballot Question One is designed to deceive us into believing that it is a fix to a problem that doesn’t exist.
Significant laws currently exist to protect complaining witnesses/victims
Kentucky has a robust set of statutes designed to protect the rights of complaining witnesses/victims throughout the criminal trial process. They are in place from the time that a person is arrested until that person, if eligible, may be considered for parole. Yet, a few vocal, well-funded individuals believe that their voices are not sufficiently heard in the criminal prosecution of a case. These people are asking you to AMEND YOUR CONSTITUTION. If the voices of complaining witnesses/victims are not being heard, it is because prosecutors and judges are not following the statutes that already protect these rights. The solution is not to create a constitutional amendment that weakens your constitutional rights if you, a friend or family member is accused of a crime. Instead, if these rights are not being respected, the answer is for judges and prosecutors to protect complaining witnesses/victims by making sure that the statutory rights currently in existence are enforced.   
Separate and unbalanced prosecutions based on money will result
The amendment provides that a person can hire his/her own lawyer or look to the prosecutor to protect and represent their interests and those of the community. Under the law as it is today, a wealthy complaining witness has the ability to hire their own counsel to participate in the case if they perceive the prosecutor is not adequately protecting their interests. Under the proposed amendment, what if the complaining witness is poor and cannot afford to hire a lawyer, yet wants to take advantage of this option?  This amendment offers no way to enable them to do so. The results of this amendment will amplify what we have today - those with money wield their influence and pay a lawyer to further their interests, while those who don’t have to fend for themselves and hope they have a good prosecutor on the case.
The role and function of prosecutors will be distorted
The way the law is today, prosecutors have a duty to the community, to the complaining witness and to the defendant. It is their job to see that justice is done, and most take that responsibility seriously. They are elected or appointed by the people to represent all of the people of the Commonwealth. This constitutional amendment attempts to contort and confuse this role. No longer will the primary duty of prosecutors be to “do justice.” Instead, that duty will be affected by individual interests. This compromises the important and elevated ethical obligations we expect and currently demand of prosecutors in the Commonwealth.
Prosecutors around the Commonwealth have said privately and publicly that Marsy’s Law will not benefit crime victims or the justice system.  Anyone wondering how Marsy’s Law will affect the local court system should speak to trusted prosecutors, judges, and lawyers.  What they will likely hear is that Marsy’s Law will not make anything better and will in fact make the system less efficient and less reliable.  Because of the enormous public relations campaign by supporters of Marsy’s Law, these concerns by elected justice professionals may never be broadcast in a TV, radio or online ad, but they will tell more truth about Marsy’s Law than any of the paid advertisements by the well-funded interest groups in favor of the amendment.
Our system of justice will be undermined
The Constitution protects citizens from the imposing power of the state to take away liberty, freedom from stigma, and sometimes even life. That is the reason that citizens are given the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The amendment declares a complaining witness who brings a criminal charge against another citizen is entitled to a heightened level of protection under the constitution. An amendment bestowing constitutional rights to complaining witnesses/victims, from the very start of a case, turns our system of justice and this bedrock principle of our constitution on its head.
These are not the only negative impacts that are foreseeable, and they do not begin to cover the confusion, expose the unfairness and reveal the costs that will result from passage of the proposed amendment. However, they provide a few concrete examples and a disturbing snapshot of what lies ahead, which should cause Kentuckians alarm and lead them to vote NO on this constitutional amendment.

KACDL Board of Directors,
Angela Rea, President   
Brad Clark, President Elect   
Karen Faulkner, First Vice President
B. Scott West, Director Ex Officio (19)
David Ward, Director Ex Officio (18)
Amy Hannah, Director Ex Officio (17)      
Ernie Lewis, Director Ex Officio (16)
William Deatherage, Director Ex Officio (15)
J. Guthrie True, Director Ex Officio (14)
Larry Simon, Director Ex Officio (13) 
Ed Monahan, Director Ex Officio (11)        
Tucker Richardson, Director Ex Officio (10)
Damon Preston, Public Advocate Designee
Leo Smith, Public Advocate Designee
Frank Mascagni, Director At Large                                    
Rachael O’ Hearen, Director At Large
Abe Mashni, Director At Large                              
Brent Cox, Director At Large
Ryan Vantrease, Director At Large                        
Patrick Renn, Director At Large
Whitney True Lawson, Director At Large
Mike Mazzoli, Director At Large
Wilbur Zevely, Director At Large

Donna M. Brown, KACDL Executive Director
Daniel T. Goyette, Director Emeritus

Media Comments and Questions pertaining to this statement release should be directed to KACDL President Angela Rea at president@kacdl.net   



2020 President:

Angela Rea currently serves as a Division Chief in the Adult Trial Division of the Louisville Metro Public Defender's Office. She began her career as a staff trial attorney with the office in April of 2003. Prior to that, in 1997, she graduated from Indiana University with Bachelors of Arts degrees in English and French. During her time at IU, she spent a year living and studying in Strasbourg, France. She went on to receive her law degree from Cornell Law School in 2002. While at Cornell, she worked with the school's Legal Information Institute. She also spent four months living in Bridgetown, Barbados while working for the United Nations Drug Control Program there. During her tenure at the Louisville Metro Public Defender's Office, she has practiced in the Adult and Capital Trial Divisions, as well as in the Appellate Division. In 2005, she was selected to attend the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Georgia. In 2007, she took part in a Spanish language study program with other attorneys and with judges that culminated with an immersion stay in Morelia, Mexico to practice language skills and undertake a comparative study of the justice systems of Mexico and the United States. Angela has won eight Walker Awards for excellent advocacy in felony jury trials that resulted in verdicts of acquittal. Her work has also earned her the Clarence Darrow Prodigy Award from the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and designation as one of Louisville's Best Lawyers under 40 by Louisville Magazine. Additionally, in a ceremony that took place in New York City in February 2016, Angela received the Law School Alumni Exemplary Public Service Award from Cornell Law School. Later that same year at the Annual Kentucky Public Defender Conference, she was named recipient of the 2016 Professionalism & Excellence Award, co-sponsored and presented by the Kentucky Bar Association.

You may reach Angela at president@kacdl.net.