Measure 52

Explanatory Statement

Section 43 of Article I of the Oregon Constitution (the Bill of Rights) establishes rights of crime victims in adult criminal and juvenile delinquency cases. Section 43 establishes the right to be reasonably protected from the accused throughout the adult criminal and juvenile delinquency process and the right to have decisions by the court about the pretrial release of the accused based upon the principles of reasonable protection of the victim and the public, and the likelihood that the accused will appear for trial.

Currently, victims cannot enforce effectively any of the rights established in section 43 because section 43 provides that assertion of a victim's rights cannot invalidate a court ruling or suspend a case and because district attorneys are the only parties to a case that have authority to assert the victim's section 43 rights. Thus, victims cannot appear in court to assert their section 43 rights and cannot appeal from or otherwise challenge a ruling of a court denying any of their section 43 rights. The constitution prevents the legislature from providing victims such procedural rights by statute.

HJR 50 amends section 43 of Oregon's Bill of Rights. Under the measure, victims could individually seek remedies for violations of section 43 "by due course of law." Victims of crime could challenge a ruling of a court denying the victim a right secured for the victim by section 43. To effectuate their rights under section 43, the measure allows victims to seek a delay in an adult criminal or juvenile delinquency case. Victims could pursue remedies in the criminal or juvenile delinquency case if one is pending, or, if no such case is pending, could initiate a case of their own. If the victim and the district attorney agreed, the district attorney could enforce the victim's section 43 rights. The measure authorizes the legislature to enact statutes providing the details of victims' remedial processes, including reasonable limitations on the time allowed for filing claims and the circumstances in which appeals are allowed.

The measure continues the current provision of section 43 that prevents a recovery of money damages for violation of a victim's rights, and the current provision that prevents an assertion of a victim's rights from invalidating an accusatory instrument, conviction or adjudication, or from terminating any criminal or juvenile delinquency case at any point after the case begins. The measure also provides that no claim for a right established in section 43 shall suspend a criminal or juvenile delinquency case if suspension would violate a right of a defendant or alleged youth offender guaranteed by the Oregon Constitution or United States Constitution.

(This impartial statement explaining the measure was provided by the 2007 Legislature.)