Governor Perdue Submits Legislation to Ensure Fairness and Justice for Victims of Crime
|Wednesday, January 26, 2005||
Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774
ATLANTA, GA – Governor Sonny Perdue unveiled today two pieces of legislation that will reform Georgia’s criminal justice system in order to provide fairness and justice for victims of crime – the Criminal Justice Act of 2005 and Crime Victims Restitution Act of 2005.
“Many of Georgia’s laws do not respect the rights of victims and their right to a fair trial. These proposals will correct inequities in our laws that prevent crime victims from receiving the fairness and justice they deserve,” said Governor Sonny Perdue.
The legislation was filed today by Representative Rich Golick, one of the Governor’s Floor Leaders in the Georgia House of Representatives.
Criminal Justice Act of 2005
The Criminal Justice Act of 2005 will revise provisions in Georgia’s criminal law that compromise the integrity of the judicial process and the rights of crime victims. Currently, Georgia’s judicial procedures fail to protect victims and their right to fair and impartial trial.
The Governor’s legislation will correct these inequities with the following provisions:
Provides an equal number of jury strikes for both the defense and prosecution. The current system of unequal strikes gives more rights to the defendant than to the victim. The law should allow the victim equal rights in jury selection.
Allows for the impeachment of a defendant who testifies in a criminal case, in line with standards of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Forty-eight states allow impeachment of all witnesses including a defendant who testifies. Kansas and Georgia are the only states that only allow impeachment of a defendant if he or she first places character at issue.
Requires reciprocal discovery during the sentencing phase. Georgia currently only has reciprocal discovery during the trial phase. Reciprocal discovery maximizes the presentation of reliable evidence and fosters fairness and efficiency in criminal proceedings.
Places Georgia in line with the majority of states by providing that the state, the party with the burden of proof, has the right to conclude closing statements at trial.
Gives the state the same right as the defendant in asking for an appellate review of a motion to recuse a judge or a motion for a new trial.
Crime Victims Restitution Act of 2005
The Crime Victims Restitution Act of 2005 will revise Georgia’s restitution laws to recognize that victim’s rights are a priority. The bill will significantly reduce the impediments to awarding and collecting restitution. Governor Perdue recognizes the powerful potential that restitution holds as a restorative criminal justice sanction.
“Ensuring that criminals make financial restitution to their victims is a basic goal and principle of our criminal justice system. It shouldn’t be an ideal we rarely meet, but a sanction that we routinely enforce,” said Governor Perdue.
Specifically, this legislation will require that restitution is ordered to victims of crime and will create new tools to help ensure that victims receive the restitution owed them. This bill acknowledges that restitution is consistent with the goal of rehabilitation and as such, it provides that juveniles, just as adult offenders, will be responsible for the financial impact of their crimes.