Marsy’s Law for All is dedicated to the cause of ensuring that crime victims’ rights are codified in law throughout the United States. When it passed in November 2008, Proposition 9, The Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008: Marsy’s Law, became the strongest and most comprehensive Constitutional victims’ rights law in the U.S. and put California at the forefront of the national victims’ rights movement.
Dr. Henry T. Nicholas, the co-founder of Broadcom Corp., was the key backer and proponent of Marsy’s Law. Dr. Nicholas is now lending his support to an effort to amend victims’ rights into the U.S. Constitution.
“This is a national movement already,” said Dr. Nicholas. “There are hundreds of marches across the country for National Crime Victim’s Week every year. We need to harness that energy to ensure victims’ rights for every American.” Marsy’s Law was opposed by every major newspaper in California state and yet the people of California passed the measure with 54% of the vote. The message was quite clear – Californians want violent crime victims and their families to have guaranteed rights.
Marsy's Law was named after Dr. Nicholas’ sister, Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas, a beautiful, vibrant University of California Santa Barbara student, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only a week after Marsy was murdered, Dr. Nicholas’ and Marsy’s mother, Mrs. Marcella Leach, walked into a grocery store after visiting her daughter’s grave and was confronted by the accused murderer. She had no idea that he had been released on bail.
Mrs. Leach’s story is typical of the pain and suffering the family members of murder victims have endured. She was not informed because the courts and law enforcement, though well meaning, had no obligation to keep her informed. While criminals have more than 20 individuals rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, the surviving family members of murder victims have none.
But the passage of Marsy’s Law changed all that in California. Now every District Attorney in California is undergoing training in Marsy's Law, and how to ensure victims are informed of their Marsy Rights. Now, victims of violent crime in California must by law be treated with respect and dignity by the criminal justice system. Courts must consider the safety of victims and families when setting bail and release conditions. And family members have legal standing in bail hearings, pleas, sentencing and parole hearings.
“If any good can come of something this horrible -- the loss of my sister and the losses of other families of crime victims – it is that these violent acts served as a catalyst for change,” Dr. Nicholas said. “Marsy’s Law will provide for a more compassionate justice system for crime victims in California and make that a constitutional guarantee. Now the momentum can be put behind a U.S. Constitutional Amendment so that the rights of all crime victims, anywhere in America, can be protected.”