UPDATE: Kentucky senator appeals 'Marsy's Law' ruling
A Kentucky state senator has appealed a judge's ruling not to certify results of a constitutional referendum next month.
Kentucky is one of six states scheduled to vote on "Marsy's Law" next month. It would amend the state's constitution to include rights for crime victims, like the right to be notified of and present for most court proceedings.
Monday, Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled the question posted to voters on the ballot is misleading. It is too late to remove the question from the ballot. But he ordered election officials not to certify the results of the Nov. 6 election.
Republican state Sen. Whitney Westerfield filed a notice of appeal on Tuesday. He was joined by state Rep. Joe Fischer and the nonprofit Marsy's Law for Kentucky.
A judge has ordered election officials in Kentucky not to certify the results of an upcoming referendum on whether to change the state's constitution to guarantee the rights of crime victims.
Kentucky is one of six states scheduled to vote on "Marsy's Law," a proposed constitutional amendment to guarantee crime victims similar rights as those accused of crimes in the judicial system. The effort's named after a California college student killed in the 1980s.
Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled Monday the ballot question isn't worded sufficiently to inform people of what they're voting on.
The ruling means Kentucky voters will still cast ballots on the question, and election officials can count them. But the judge has ordered officials not to certify the results until after appellate courts have ruled.
After the ruling, the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers released a statement saying, "KACDL is pleased with the well-reasoned opinion of the Court and is confident that if appealed, the Appellate Courts will confirm Judge Wingate’s ruling. Before our Constitution can be changed, the voters should be fully informed about the content of the proposed amendment."
The KACDL filed the lawsuit in August siting the the proposed
amendment would "significantly change the criminal justice system." They added the wording on the ballots "is to be presented to the voters in a confusing manner that fails to inform the voting public how that change would take place."
Leaders with Marcy's Law for Kentucky posted a statement saying,
"We are disappointed in today’s decision from the Franklin Circuit Court and what it means for crime victims in Kentucky. We strongly believe the ballot question drafted by the General Assembly adequately informs the voters and have appealed the decision. To be clear, this ruling does not relate to the substance of Marsy’s Law, but rather a mere technicality on how the measure was summarized in the ballot. Marsy’s Law has received widespread support from victims’ advocates, public officials, law enforcement officers and individuals across Kentucky. Marsy’s Law was the first bill passed by the General Assembly in 2018. It received overwhelming support, passing 34-1 in the Senate and 87-3 in the House. We will continue to fight vigorously in order to get victims of crime in Kentucky the right to be treated with dignity and respect. We will also continue to oppose the efforts of those like the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, who waited until the eleventh hour, just before the election, to put forward this unnecessary lawsuit. Crime victims in Kentucky deserve to be treated with the dignity and respect Marsy’s Law will provide."