FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sept. 18, 2018
Contact: Marcos Miralles,
Chairman, Libertarian Party of Florida
chair@lpf.org

MIAMI – The Libertarian Party of Florida recommends a NO vote for the following Amendment:

Amendment 6 – Creates constitutional rights for victims of crime; requires courts to facilitate victims’ rights; authorizes victims to enforce their rights throughout criminal and juvenile justice processes. Requires judges and hearing officers to independently interpret statutes and rules rather than deferring to government agency’s interpretation. Raises mandatory retirement age of state justices and judges from seventy to seventy-five years; deletes authorization to complete judicial term if one-half of term has been served by retirement age.

Libertarian Party of Florida Platform

III. COURTS

  1. The common law authority of a trial by jury preceded our constitution and is the foundation of our legal system. If a jury of peers deems a law unjust, oppressive or inappropriately applied, it has the right and duty to acquit the defendant. We support the right of defendants to a fully informed jury, which would require judges to instruct jurors of their authority to judge not only the facts, but also the justice of the law according to their own good consciences.
  2. We support restitution for victims of crimes or civil infractions at the expense of the perpetrator. The victim should have the right to pardon the perpetrator, provided the victim is not threatened or coerced.
  3. Private adjudication of disputes by mutually acceptable judges or mediators should be encouraged.
  4. No-fault laws should be repealed because they deprive the victim of the right to recover damages from those responsible for causing harm.
  5. The right of trial by jury should be allowed in all civil or criminal cases where the value exceeds one oz of gold.
  6. The use of civil asset forfeiture to enforce laws circumvents constitutional protections and should be ended.
  7. Random police roadblocks and other searches without probable cause bypass constitutional protections and should be prohibited.
  8. We support equal treatment and oppose sexual discrimination in any judicial proceeding adjudicating a parental right, privilege or obligation concerning his or her child.

Because Amendment 6 has three unique proposals, we looked at each one individually, starting with the one that’s probably best known, “Marsy’s Law.”

Discussion

Marsy’s Law (Proposal 96:) This component of Amendment 6 has a lot to like about it. It substantially expands the rights of victims, assures they’re involved in the prosecution process and increases protection from harassment from the defendant. We agree these are important and needed but there are also some troubling components of this proposal that may take away the rights of the accused so we oppose it. Two of these were noted by Florida Constitutional Revision Commission reviewers:

• “The right to privacy, which includes the right to refuse an interview, deposition, or other discovery request by the defense or anyone acting on the defendant’s behalf, and to set reasonable conditions on the conduct of any such interaction to which the victim consents.” This suggests the victim may refuse providing important testimony to the defendant and the defendant’s counsel. We believe this is a violation of due process and might lead to wrongful convictions if some important bit of the victim’s testimony is not presented.

• “The right to full and timely restitution in every case and from each convicted offender for all losses suffered, both directly and indirectly, by the victim as a result of the criminal conduct.” We agree victims should receive restitution from those convicted of crimes against them. Convictions can be overturned. This proposal does not address the rights of the wrongfully-convicted should their sentences be overturned. Will the victim have to pay the wrongly-convicted person back, with interest? Prop. 96 is silent to this.

Next, we look at the second component of Amendment 6 which would raise the retirement age of judges.

Judicial Retirement Age (Proposal 41:) This would raise the age of required judicial retirement from 70 to 75. It would also prevent judges from serving out their terms beyond the retirement age. We don’t agree the retirement age should be increased as it would allow these public employees to accumulate more retirement benefits at a cost to taxpayers. Judges should not be allowed to complete their terms well beyond their retirement for the same reason.
Finally, we look at the third element of Amendment 6, which would require judges to interpret laws regardless of public reviews.

Judicial Interpretation (Proposal 6:) This proposal would require judges to interpret state laws and regulations, regardless of the state’s own interpretations of them. Judges are now required to give preference to the state’s interpretations of laws. State rules and regulations go through a comprehensive state agency and public “rulemaking” review process before they are put into practice. Judges are beholden to that rulemaking. While the existing process is far from perfect, it does allow for the public’s review and input. This proposal would strip away the public’s concerns in favor of any single judge’s interpretation. We believe this opens the door to too many problems, from poor differing judgements to costly legal expenses. We oppose this proposal.

 

Conclusions

The Libertarian Party of Florida applauds citizens who come forward to recommend changes to their Constitution. Amendment 6 illustrates the state’s FCRC ballot initiative system is horribly broken. If we could, we would approve Proposal 41, and oppose Proposals 96 and 6. We can’t. There’s got to be a better way.

The LPF wants to see citizens, not politicians, elect the “super-majority” of FCRC members. The LPF urges all proposals are presented separately so voters can make decisions they desire, not those that are steered by political appointees.

By J. Mark Barfield, Staff Writer

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