LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentuckians have voted to pass an amendment to the state constitution that will provide crime victims with specific constitutional rights.
However, they voted against a second amendment that would have lengthened the terms of district judges and commonwealth’s attorneys, respectively.
Each amendment needed to receive a majority of the vote to pass.
The first amendment, Marsy’s Law, passed with 63.3% of the vote with close to 95% of results reporting Tuesday evening. The amendment was designed to ensure greater rights and protections for crime victims. It was first passed in California in 2008, and several states have adopted versions since.
Kentucky voters previously passed a Marsy’s Law amendment in 2018 with 63% of the vote, but in June 2019 the Supreme Court invalidated it because the full text of the law wasn’t on the ballot.
Dive deeper:Could Marsy’s Law be used to shield police in shootings?
The court said a one-sentence description to voters was inadequate. This time around, the full text — which is more than 600 words long — was on the ballot.
“A victim, as defined by law which takes effect upon the enactment of this section and which may be expanded by the General Assembly, shall have the following rights, which shall be respected and protected by law in a manner no less vigorous than the protections afforded to the accused in the criminal and juvenile justice systems,” the Kentucky amendment reads.
Some of those provisions include the right to be notified of and be present at hearings and the right to have the victim’s safety considered when setting bail.
Meanwhile, the second amendment on the ballot dealt with the term limits for district court judges and commonwealth’s attorneys, as well as the experience required for a district court judge. With nearly 95% of the results in, 69% of voters rejected the amendment.
Results:View 2020 Kentucky Election Day results here
District courts hear cases involving misdemeanors and smaller lawsuits. District court judges are elected and serve four-year terms, and they are required to have been a licensed attorney for at least two years.
The amendment proposed the doubling of a term of a district court judge from four years to eight, starting in 2022. The amendment also proposed that district court judges be required to have been a licensed attorney for at least eight years.
Additionally, the amendment aimed to expand the term of a commonwealth’s attorney from six years to eight, starting in 2030.
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