Measure 51

Legislative Argument in Support

Section 42 of Article I of the Oregon Constitution establishes rights of crime victims. Ballot Measure 51 relates to enforcement of Section 42 rights including the rights to be present at critical stages in the prosecution of an offender, to be heard at sentencing, to receive prompt restitution for loss or injury and to be consulted about plea negotiations. Currently, victims cannot individually enforce these rights.

Ballot Measure 51 would empower victims individually to seek remedies for violations of their Section 42 rights. Victims can assert and enforce their rights or ask prosecutors to assert and enforce their rights; prosecutors can decline, leaving victims free to do so. In cases involving organized crime or victims who are minors, Ballot Measure 51 allows prosecutors with cause to believe the victim's rights would impair effective prosecution to have a court suspend the rights.

Ballot Measure 51 authorizes the legislature to enact detailed laws for enforcing Section 42 rights, including reasonable limitations on the time allowed for claims and the circumstances in which expedited appeals are allowed. Until the legislature exercises this authority, victims can assert their constitutional rights in a pending criminal case or, if no such case is pending, by initiating a lawsuit to compel public officials to respect their rights.

Ballot Measure 51 provides that a victim's claim for a Section 42 right can invalidate a court's ruling or suspend a criminal or juvenile delinquency proceeding if such suspension would not violate a right of a criminal defendant or alleged youth offender guaranteed by the Oregon or United States Constitutions.

Ballot Measure 51 continues current provisions of the Oregon Constitution preventing recovery of money damages for violation of a victim's rights, and preventing victim's claims from invalidating an indictment or other accusatory instrument, conviction or adjudication, or from terminating any criminal or juvenile delinquency proceeding at any point after the case is commenced or on appeal.

Committee Members: / Appointed by:
Senator Floyd Prozanski / President of the Senate
Representative Wayne Krieger / Speaker of the House
Representative Greg Macpherson / Speaker of the House

(This Joint Legislative Committee was appointed to provide the legislative argument in support of the ballot measure pursuant to ORS 251.245.)

Argument in Favor

Fellow Oregonians:

I encourage you to vote "yes" on Measure 51 in order to strengthen the rights of crime victims.

In 1999, I led the effort to adopt measures to give crime victims certain rights. These were to balance a system which focused so much on the rights of the criminal defendant that the actual victim was almost forgotten. One such reform was the adoption of a constitutional amendment which gave crime victims:

Voters approved this amendment by a wide margin in November 1999.

We have since seen major changes in how crime victims are treated. Generally, these victims' rights have been respected by the courts.

Unfortunately, some courts have failed to fully respect victims' rights, and some criminal defense lawyers have tried to "use" crime victims' rights as a lever to help criminal defendants, by raising procedural issues under the pretense of "protecting" victims' rights.

Measure 51 will help address these problems.

First, it specifically grants crime victims the legal authority to use the courts, and to appeal, to enforce their rights.

Second, it makes it clear that criminal defendants do not get to use victims' rights as a lever to "game" the justice system.

This Measure has broad bipartisan support.

Please vote "yes" on Measure 51 to better protect crime victims' rights.


Kevin Mannix

(This information furnished by Kevin L. Mannix, Kevin L. Mannix, P.C.)

Argument in Favor


Section 42 of the Oregon Constitution's Bill of Rights establishes rights of crime victims. These rights include, among others, the right to be present at critical stages in the criminal case or juvenile proceeding, to consult with prosecutors about certain plea negotiations, and to be heard at the criminal sentencing or juvenile case disposition.

You might think victims denied these and other rights provided by the Oregon Constitution could go to court to enforce their rights—but you would be wrong. Currently victims cannot individually enforce any of their Section 42 rights.

A right without a remedy is an illusory right. A "yes" vote on Measure 51 will allow victims to seek remedies "by due course of law" for violations of their constitutional rights. A "yes" vote will make the constitutional rights of victims real.


Measure 51 is carefully drawn to make victims' rights enforcement consistent with an accused's constitutional rights and with the orderly progress of a criminal or juvenile case. The measure

--permits victim rights enforcement to suspend temporarily a criminal or juvenile proceeding if consistent with an accused's speedy trial or other constitutional rights;

--continues current constitutional provisions that prevent a victim's rights violation from invalidating an accusatory instrument or a conviction, terminating a criminal or juvenile proceeding, or creating a right to recover money damages.


Measure 51 authorizes the legislature to establish by law the details of implementing the measure but provides remedies for victims until the legislature acts. The measure will thus form an historic, enduring foundation for Oregonians today and in the years ahead to realize the rights the Oregon Constitution grants them if they are victims of crime.

I urge you to join me in supporting Measure 51.

Attorney General Hardy Myers

(This information furnished by Hardy Myers.)

Argument in Favor

Crime Victims United, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Parents of Murdered Children urge you to VOTE YES on Ballot Measures 51 and 52.

We ask you to help us complete a 25-year quest for crime victims' rights:

From the state's establishment through the early 1980's, crime victims in Oregon had no rights in statutory law or in the Oregon Constitution. In 1986 the voters of Oregon established crime victims' rights in statutory law. In 1999 voters established crime victims' rights in the Oregon Constitution.

But in 2008, crime victims in Oregon still do not have standing to appeal when their rights are violated.

Measures 51 and 52 will give crime victims enforceable rights.

Crime Victims United, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and Parents of Murdered Children have seen the difficulties crime victims face in the criminal justice system. We strongly support these measures.

Measures 51 and 52 received unanimous support from the Oregon House and Senate. They have the support of law enforcement.

Now we ask for your support, through your vote, to make crime victims' rights enforceable.

Please join Crime Victims United, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Parents of Murdered Children, by voting:

YES on Measures 51 and 52

(This information furnished by Steve Doell, Crime Victims United, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Parents of Murdered Children.)

Argument in Favor

Compared to victims' rights laws enacted across the US and the globe, Oregon's current laws fall far short of excellent.

And it's true that our rights are voluntarily honored most of the time. But not always. That is the grave injustice Measure 51 will put to an end.

Today, if a victim is denied the right to be consulted over a plea, or is barred from the courtroom, or is denied the right to speak at sentencing, there is no way to undo the wrong. Such people are now twice victimized - first by the offender, now by our own justice system. Sadly, this injustice was created on purpose- the very amendments laying out our rights forbid courts from undoing any violation of those rights.

Measure 51, if approved, will finally give victims the right to protest any violation of their rights and, when the courts agree with them, they can make the case step back and redo the proceeding where the violation occurred - with the victim's rights fully protected.

True, victims must raise their objections in a timely way because in our constitutional system, there is no turning back once an offender is found guilty and sentenced. But until that point, victim justice is finally guaranteed.

To further insure our rights are honored, our Department of Justice has already put in place an educational and compliance system. Also, the justice system is contemplating user-friendly procedures for enforcing our rights if these measures are adopted.

Give us real rights. Support Measure 51.

(This information furnished by John H. Stein, International Organization for Victim Assistance.)

Argument in Favor

I am a Law Professor in Oregon and Director of the National Crime Victim Law Institute. As one of the nation's leading legal experts on crime victims law, I urge you to VOTE YES on Ballot Measures 51 and 52. These measures are designed to change what are now illusory crime victims' rights into real and enforceable crime victims rights.

Right now the victim's rights already in the Oregon Constitution cannot be enforced. In particular, provisions denying stays and the language preventing judicial review of any ruling involving victims' rights make unavailable the traditional rights enforcement. Such traditional rights enforcement procedures accompany other constitutional rights, but not crime victims' rights. What this means is that victims' rights are rights without remedy. Rights without remedy goes against longstanding legal and constitutional tradition. In our American legal tradition, rights are accompanied by remedies. Ballot Measures 51 and 52 will place victims rights within the American tradition of enforceable rights with remedy.

In providing enforcement for violation of victims' rights, Measures 51 and 52 also grant the legislature authority to provide procedures. Thus, the legislature may facilitate enforcement of the rights through procedures it establishes. Moreover, this legislative authority allows for flexibility, so that procedures can be modified when needed to ensure that victims' rights are enforced. With the constitution already providing rights, with the passage of Measures 51 and 52 the legislature will be able to see to it that those constitutional rights can be efficiently enforced in the courts.

Throughout the years, Oregonians have been strong supporters of crime victims' civil rights. What is needed now to achieve meaningful, enforceable rights is the passage of Measures 51 and 52. Both Houses of the Oregon Legislature voted unanimously to refer these two measures to the people and I urge you to join them in voting YES on Ballot Measures 51 and 52.

Douglas E. Beloof
Professor of Law
Director, National Crime Victim Law Institute

(This information furnished by Douglas E. Beloof, National Crime Victim Law Institute.)

Argument in Favor


Measure 51 provides needed tools for enforcing crime victims' rights. Between 1996 and 2000, Oregonians enacted important Constitutional amendments that provide rights to victims of crime. These rights ensure victims are not revictimized by the criminal justice system and include the right to be present at the trial, the right to restitution, the right to be heard at the sentencing hearing, and the right to know when offenders are released from custody. Unlike other rights and privileges in Oregon's Constitution, if crime victims are denied these rights they may not appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court. Measure 51 makes crime victims' rights enforceable in the state appellate system.

Effective crime victims' rights improve the criminal justice system. All 36 Oregon district attorneys operate victims' services programs. These programs provide information and resources to victims. These units do not provide legal services to victims. Prosecutors represent the public interest in criminal proceedings, not victims. Under the current system, victims must rely on prosecutors to enforce their constitutional rights - a design susceptible to conflicts of interest. Measure 51 gives victims legal standing to independently enforce their constitutional rights.

Appellate review provides uniform application of the law. Oregon's Court of Appeals and Supreme Court provide clarity as to the meaning of the Constitution and the application of the law. Decisions by these appellate level courts must be followed by circuit courts throughout the state. Currently, circuit court decisions related to crime victims' rights cannot be appealed by victims. As a result, constitutional provisions can be interpreted differently by different courts with no opportunity to seek review by higher courts. The result can be inequitable treatment from courtroom to courtroom with no opportunity for recourse. Ballot Measure 51 will ensure that the most complicated cases can be appealed to and decided by the appellate court system.

Ballot Measure 51 ensures victims equitable treatment and a meaningful role in the criminal justice system.

(This information furnished by Kevin Neely, Oregon District Attorneys Association.)

Argument in Favor

Vote YES on Ballot Measure 51

The members of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police urge you to vote YES on Ballot Measure 51.

Over the past decade, Oregonians and the legislative process have taken important steps to insure that the needs of crime victims are considered by our judicial system and that their voices are heard. As law enforcement leaders in the State of Oregon, we see the harm and pain that crime victims experience on a daily basis. We strongly believe that their stories and perspectives play a critical role in our criminal justice system. Above all, we believe that the rights of crime victims should be fully enforceable in the courts. It is not sufficient to provide victims with the appearance of rights without providing them a real remedy when their rights are violated.

As presently written, the Oregon Constitution provides rights for crime victims but doesn't provide recourse when these important rights are violated. Ballot Measure 51 will insure that the rights we offer to victims in Oregon are meaningful and real. Ballot Measure 51 will give judges the authority they need to enforce the rights of crime victims the way other constitutional rights are enforced. Just as the rights of defendants are honored by the criminal justice system, so too should the rights of victims.

The Oregon House of Representatives and Oregon State Senate voted unanimously to refer Ballot Measure 51 to you, the voters. Such bipartisan agreement testifies to the common sense nature of this important proposal. Please join Oregon's police chiefs in supporting this vital measure to secure the enforcement of crime victim's rights.

We urge you to vote YES on Ballot Measure 51!

(This information furnished by Kevin Campbell, Oregon Association Chiefs of Police.)

Argument in Favor

State Legislators Support Ballot Measures 51 & 52

Crime victims deserve our respect and the best our state laws can provide. That's why we urge you to join us in supporting Ballot Measures 51 and 52.

We have all served on the House Judiciary Committee and understand the importance of victims' rights in the Oregon Constitution. Under the current language in the constitution, these rights are often empty promises because they are unenforceable.

The Oregon Legislature voted unanimously to refer Measures 51 and 52 to the ballot so those pre-existing rights could be enforced. We were proud to join our colleagues in approving these measures. "Yes" votes on Measure 51 and 52 will give victims in Oregon the same rights as those in other states and similar provisions as federal law.

We're talking about a victim's right to be protected from harm and be involved in the court process, to participate in plea bargains, and to get restitution. Perhaps the most important element of these measures honors victims by ensuring judges can enforce these rights when there are violations.

These measures not only allow courts to act immediately to help victims, but also give the legislature the ability to improve the process. Finally, and importantly, this law does not conflict with the constitutional rights of criminal defendants; all the defendants' rights are preserved.

Oregon is one of handful of states with constitutional rights for crime victims that can't be enforced. With your support for Ballot Measures 51 and 52, crime victims will be able to exercise and enforce their rights. With your "Yes" vote our victims' rights laws will be among the most progressive and effective in the country.

We would appreciate your support!

State Representative Linda Flores- Beavercreek, Boring, Clackamas, Damascus, Estacada, Oregon City.
State Representative Kim Thatcher- Keizer, Newberg, St. Paul.
State Representative Gene Whisnant- LaPine, Redmond, Sisters, Sunriver, Tumalo.

(This information furnished by State Representatives Flores, Thatcher & Whisnant.)