Prop 9 "Victims' Rights" Measure Challenged In Federal Court

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, March 12, 2009

Proposition 9…the so-called “victim rights” measure approved by voters last November is tied up in a legal battle.  A federal court  hearing was held in Sacramento today (Thursday, 3.12) over part of Prop 9. 
Prop 9 changed a law requiring state-paid defense attorneys for offenders accused of violating their parole.  Under the measure, there are new limits regarding defense lawyers for parolees who can’t afford them.
Attorney Ernest Galvan represents 130-thousand California parolees in the case.  He says the state is constitutionally-bound to provide attorneys to parole violators who could be sent back to prison… 
 “To have an independent person in there, an attorney…a professional, licensed officer of the court, conducting the questioning in a dignified manner, is an appropriate way of providing a system of justice…”
Bilenda Harris-Ritter is a former parole commissioner and an attorney representing supporters of Prop 9.   She says the measure doesn’t violate the state or federal constitution…
“The people of the state of California have the right to make their laws.  And when they pass laws that are going to save millions of dollars for the state of California…I think that’s something we need to look at…”
Other provisions of Prop nine are not affected by the legal dispute.  The measure also requires restitution paid to crime victims and expansion of victims’ legal rights.  After a brief hearing, the judge said he needs more time to review the case.