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Politics

Amendment 6: Rights of Crime Victims; Judges

October 8, 2018 - 6:00am

Ballot Language: Creates constitutional rights for victims of crime; requires courts to facilitate victims’ rights; authorizes victims to enforce their rights throughout criminal and juvenile justice processes. Requires judges and hearing officers to independently interpret statutes and rules rather than deferring to a government agency’s interpretation. Raises mandatory retirement age of state justices and judges from seventy to seventy-five years; deletes authorization to complete judicial term if one-half of term has been served by retirement age.

How The Amendment Reached The Ballot: Constitution Revision Commission

What Your Vote Means: A Yes vote on this measure: (1) adds rights for crime victims, collectively known as Marsy’s Law, to the Florida Constitution; (2) requires that state courts independently interpret statutes rather than deferring to administrative agencies; and (3) raises the retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. A No vote on this measure: (1) retains the status quo on constitutional rights of crime victims; (2) allows judges to continue the pattern of deference shown towards agencies; and (3) maintains the current mandatory retirement age for judges.

Pro: Marsy’s Law supplies crime victims—and their families—with a series of rights. Currently, the Florida Constitution does not enumerate specific rights for crime victims or their families. If the amendment were to pass, crime victims would benefit from: the right to due process and fairness; the right to be free from intimidation; and the right to be reasonably protected from the accused. A Yes vote respects the importance of victim’s rights throughout a criminal proceeding. Marsy’s Law is a nationwide push to strengthen victim’s rights, and six states have passed the legislation since 2009. In addition to the provisions contained in Marsy’s Law, the measure encourages judges to independently interpret statutes. The Florida Supreme Court often defers to agency interpretations, and a Yes vote would curtail this trend. Administrative law judges face mounting questions as their role in the judiciary grows. This amendment would ensure that authority over legal questions rests with appointed judges rather than administrative agencies. Finally, Amendment 6 raises the retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. This effort recognizes increases in life spans and accommodates for a longer working career.

Con: Florida’s Constitution already offers a subsection that details victim’s rights—albeit unclearly. Additionally, the legislature guarantees a certain set of rights and safeguards for crime victims. Instead of adding additional (and potentially excessive) language to the Constitution, the issues present in Amendment 6 could be handled through the legislative process. Opponents argue that the approval of Marsy’s Law would overwhelm and overburden the courts with a litany of “unfunded mandates.” Critics also contend that providing more rights to victims would have a wide range of unintended consequences. For example, the legislation does not define a handful of relevant terms. Some claim this amendment is good politics, but bad policy. Apart from the concerns present in Marsy’s Law, Amendment 6 upends a functioning and orderly system in administrative agencies. Judges outsource many decisions to administrative law judges because they have a better understanding of the issues. Although this amendment would stress the importance of traditional judges, it risks the progress made in administrative law.

 

This amendment is reprinted with permission from the James Madison Institute's 2018 Florida Constitutional Amendment Guide. Click below to read more from our site!

 

Comments

Fluffed up amendment that at a glance will make most people vote “yes”. But why do we really have this amendment? Because it allows a judge stay on the bench well after their sharpest years have long gone. Believe me, I work in the judicial system and we do not need to extend the ages of judges to be able to sit on the bench. If anything, this age should be reduced - not increased. Does anyone else think this amendment should be 2 separate amendments? Pass the word - They’re trying to pull a fast one on the voters. Please vote NO!

Yes, This need be to be two separate revisions. This bill is just wrong. I want Yes for Rights of Crime Victims and NO on increasing the age of judges.

I'm with you. I'm Voting No. I really dislike they are bundling these amendments with unrelated issues.

I totally agree. Why is this bill even together. Its like a trick.

Proposed Amendment 6 is NONSENSE that promotes (and inserts) 'Full Scale' "MOMISM" into our Justice System "across the board" and will only serve to further "undercut" our existing laws. As for increasing antiquated Judge's ages,.. WHY???... FOR WHAT COMMON SENSE PURPOSE??? Flush the "old codgers" OUT and promote the more current recipients of Law School educations (more in line with our Constitutional Republic); and furthermore, NEVER vote to "extend" a sitting JUDGE on his "bench" without knowing ANYTHING about his existing decisions or demeanor. Don't leave this "evaluation" in the hands of local and State "Bar Associations": This is a prejudiced, and 'inward facing' "Good Old Boy System" that is in dire need of "sunlight" (Think former JUDGE, turned Congressman, Alcee Hastings, as a corrupt example of that "system"). Make these judges CAMPAIGN and "reveal" themselves publically BEFORE you vote to "pass them on" to "Mount Olympus" to bring judgement UPON US... They are "petty, clay-footed-gods", until WE "call them to account publically" for many of their flawed and lazy courtroom decisions...!

Amen

You could seriously benefit from a number of repeated kicks in the pants from some Moms...

Maybe "some", but definitely not "most"!

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