'Marsy's Law' Faces Skepticism From Some In N.H. House

Apr 10, 2018

A proposed amendment to the state constitution known as Marsy's Law faced tough questions in a hearing before House lawmakers on Tuesday.

The proposal is designed to give victims of crime greater say in the court system by enshrining a list of constitutional rights.

Governor Chris Sununu, testifying in favor of the amendment, said it's needed to level the playing field between victims and the accused. Sununu brushed off a question about the potential cost of the amendment for taxpayers.

“This constitutional amendment should not be considered on its cost," said Sununu. "This constitutional amendment needs to be considered on the value that you are providing to the citizens, and if all you want to look at is the cost of dollars, that’s the old way of doing things.”

Sununu appeared alongside Bob Marriott, whose daughter was murdered in 2012. He said he was re-victimized by the court system during the killer's appeal. Something Marriott says Marsy's Law would have prevented.

Retired state Supreme Court Justice Carol Ann Conboy testified in opposition to the amendment.
Credit Jason Moon for NHPR

Opponents, including former State Supreme Court Justice Carol Ann Conboy, warned the amendment could undermine due process, in part by recognizing someone as a victim before a trial has taken place.

“Until that other person is legally proven to be responsible for the crime, the victim is in fact and law only an alleged victim,” said Conboy.

The amendment passed by a wide margin in the Senate last month. To become part of the constitution it will need 3/5ths support from the House, followed by 2/3rds of voters in November.