Below are summaries of recent cases implicating victims' rights
which may be of interest to you:
In re Hickson, 2000 WL 1863544 (Pa. Super): A person who
is not a family member of the victim does not have standing under
Pennsylvania's victims' rights law to file a complaint for review
of a prosecutor's decision not to charge.
State v. Lamm, 620 N.W.2d 764 (Neb): The refusal to allow
a victim to testify, as required by the victims' rights amendment
to the state constitution, cannot be remedied, because the state
legislature had provided no statutory means of enforcing the constitutional
Greene v. State, 2001 WL 83299 (Ark): Murder victim's wife's
statements regarding her forgiveness of the defendant and her desire
that he not be sentenced to death were inadmissible. They might
confuse and mislead the jury, and were not relevant to the circumstances
of the crime, which are the only things victim's were supposed to
State v. Byers, 2001 WL 109150 (Ohio App.) (unpublished):
a police officer who is also the victim may testify at sentencing,
because he is not testifying as an agent of the state.
State v. Eggenberger, 2001 WL 118894 (Wisc. App.): Victim's
family members may testify as to impact of crime. But see State
v. Johnson, 2000 WL 1839411 (Ill.App.): family members may not
testify if victim still alive. Note: There are also several other
cases from other states on whether family members can testify pursuant
to victims' rights statutes.
State v. Gomez, 2001 WL 41012 (La): The Louisiana victims'
rights constitutional amendment and statutes do not allow: 1) testimony
of relatives if the victim is alive; 2) testimony of mental health
professionals as to the crime's impact on the victim; and 3) evidence
concerning the financial expenditures of the victim's family for
counseling and the like. Note: This case appears to be one in a
series in which the Louisiana Supreme Court is fighting with the
state legislature over the scope of the victims' rights legislation--i.e.
the legislature (or voters through initiative) pass a law, then
the court construes it narrowly, and then the legislature tries
to overturn that decision by amending the law, and then the court
makes another narrow construction, etc. So, this might be an interesting
area to delve into more deeply.
Thanks to Nathaniel Zylstra of Yale Law School and Dave Evans for