Representatives and advocates of Marsy’s Law for Florida today participated in the Florida Bar’s Rules of Judicial Administration Committee meeting to voice their support for a proposed rule offered by Florida’s Clerks of Court that would enable the clerks to review case file information and redact crime victims’ confidential information after they have invoked Marsy’s Law for Florida victims’ rights.
The proposed rule identifies crime victims as “any person who has invoked the protections of Article I, Section 16(b)(5) of the Florida Constitution” and states:
(A) Any law enforcement agency or state attorney initiating criminal proceedings shall, at the request of any victim of the crime involved in the proceeding, file with the clerk, along with the initiating documents or upon receipt if not available at case initiation, a copy of a victim confidential information opt in form for each victim requesting confidentiality. The opt in form shall be treated like a Notice of Confidential Information and processed the same way by the clerk.
(B) In any criminal case in which rights have been invoked by the filing of a victim confidential information opt in form, filers of subsequent documents shall minimize the presence of victim identifying information in accordance with Rule 2.425(3), or file a Notice of Confidential Information with each subsequent court document that contains victim identifying information pursuant to (d)(1)(b)(2).
(C) A victim may file a Rights of Crime Victims “Marsy’s Law” Confidential Information In Court Records Opt In Form at any time in a criminal case. Such form shall be treated like a Notice of Confidential Information and processed as such by the Clerk. A Rights of Crime Victims “Marsy’s Law” Confidential Information In Court Records Opt In Form accompanies this rule.
Rachel Sines, an Orlando-area crime victim who spoke before today’s committee, shared the details of her story and how this proposed rule would have helped her. For a period of time, the man who sexually assaulted Sines at gunpoint chose to serve as his own counsel. During this time, he was afforded access to Sines’ personal information, as well as depositions given from witnesses. Not only did her attacker make harassing phone calls to her and her witnesses, this information was used to steal Sines’ identity and to set up phone and credit card accounts in her name.
“This is what happens when there aren’t privacy laws in place for victims. It took me six months of calls, paperwork and effort to clear things up and I still had almost $5,000 stolen from me. And, every time something happened, I had to file a complaint, file a report and revisit what happened to me,” said Sines. “Mine is an example of why what the Florida Clerks are trying to do is so important.”
“I encourage the committee to support efforts to make sure none of this information is public and that personal information irrelevant to the case that may come into law enforcement’s possession doesn’t have to flow directly into discovery and then to the defense. Defense attorneys and public defenders will still have access to information crucial to their clients’ cases without exposing crime victims to additional victimization,” added Sines.
A specific set of clear, enforceable crime victims’ rights was placed in the Florida Constitution following the passage of Amendment 6 this past November. These rights were officially enacted on January 8, 2019, and are commonly referred to as Marsy’s Law for Florida rights.
For more information on Marsy’s Law for Florida, visit marsyslawforfl.com.
About Marsy’s Law
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail. In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas, co-founder of Broadcom Corporation, has made it his mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights. He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide.