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California’s First-Ever Attorney Training on Victims’ Rights Proves Success at UCI Law School

Dean Erwin Chemerinksy and Dr. Henry T. Nicholas, III, Founder of Marsy’s Law for All, Co-Host Ground-Breaking Conference on California’s Constitutional Amendment to Protect Victims

Irvine, CA—February 2, 2010—More than 75 attorneys participated in a groundbreaking training seminar Jan. 28 on Marsy’s Law, California’s Constitutional Amendment to protect victims’ rights, at the UC Irvine School of Law. The seminar, which offered Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) credit to lawyers, was the first of its kind to provide attorneys with adequate training on victims’ rights and then recruit them to become crime victim advocates in the California judicial system.

The event was co-hosted by UCI Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and Dr. Henry T. Nicholas, III, co-founder of Broadcom Corporation and sponsor and co-author of Marsy’s Law. Dr. Nicholas, whose sister Marsy was murdered in 1983, is the founder of Marsy’s Law for All, established last year to help unify and expand the victims’ rights movement nationwide. Video exerpts from the Jan. 28 conference can be viewed on the group’s website, www.marsyslawforall.org.

“Over the past 200 years, our system of justice has evolved in such a way that victims have been forgotten,” said Dr. Nicholas, Marsy’s Law co-author and sponsor, and founder of the organization, Marsy’s Law for All. “I thank you for attending and becoming educated on Marsy’s Law. Hopefully, all of you will help enforce the constitutional rights afforded to crime victims through California’s Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights.”

“In the American legal system, traditionally, the prosecutor represents the government and the defense lawyer represents the defendant, but the victim of the crime never gets heard,” said Chemerinsky. “The idea of Marsy’s Law is to make sure that the victim gets heard and that’s what this event is about—training lawyers to be able to perform their role in representing victims under Marsy’s Law.”

Voters passed Marsy's Law as an amendment to the California Constitution on Nov. 4, 2008. It represented a seminal advance for victims' rights and is the strongest victims’ rights law in the nation. Marsy’s Law for All sponsored the conference in conjunction with UCI’s School of Law.

Todd Spitzer, Orange County Assistant District Attorney and State Chairman for the Marsy’s Law campaign, moderated a panel where crime victims spoke of the anguish and frustration they endured before passage of Marsy’s Law. Longtime victims’ rights advocate, Collene Campbell, shared her experience in finally obtaining justice for the 1988 murder of her brother, racing car legend Mickey Thompson and his wife, Trudy.

The National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) led the afternoon training session on crime victims' Marsy's Rights, which are granted to crime victims through Marsy's Law, akin to defendants' Miranda Rights.

About Marsy’s Law For All
Marsy’s Law For All is focused on expanding the constitutional rights of crime victims, supporting the use of new technologies to help organizations, and formally training lawyers to represent crime victims in court, through the National Crime Victims Law Institute. Its new Web site, www.MarsysLawForAll.org, aims to enable the victims' rights movement to reach new members and promote the eventual passage of a U.S. Constitutional Amendment.

About UCI School of Law
UCI School of Law seeks to create the ideal law school for the 21st century by doing the best job in the country of training lawyers for the practice of law at the highest levels of the profession. The law school's Inaugural Class has a median grade point average and LSAT scores comparable to those of classes at top 20 law schools.

About the National Crime Victim Law Institute
The National Crime Victim Law Institute was conceived in 1997 by Professor Doug Beloof to be a national resource for crime victims and their lawyers and to help enforce victims' rights. NCVLI has worked with the Office for Victims of Crime to launch twelve pro bono legal clinics across the country, provide legal technical assistance to practitioners nationwide and train criminal justice professionals on meaning, scope and enforceability of rights.