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Lawsuit challenges Marsy’s Law amendment

A lawsuit has been filed challenging a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that seeks to provide additional protections for victims of crime.

Lee Hollander, a criminal defense lawyer from Southwest Florida, filed the lawsuit late last week in Leon County circuit court challenging Amendment 6, which was placed on the general-election ballot by the state Constitution Revision Commission.

The ballot summary is “misleading” because “it fails to inform voters that it will result in the loss of current constitutional rights of criminal defendants, purports to ‘create’ constitutional rights for victims of crime even though rights for crime victims already exist in the Constitution (and) fails to inform voters that it curtails time allowed for criminal appeals,” the lawsuit said.

Supporters of the amendment, which has become commonly known as “Marsy’s Law,” argue it would establish a series of rights for crime victims, including the right to be notified of major developments in criminal cases and the right to be heard in the legal proceedings. The amendment also would increase the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. And it would provide that judges should not necessarily defer to the interpretation of laws and rules by governmental agencies in legal proceedings.

Hollander’s lawsuit means four of the eight ballot measures approved by the Constitution Revision Commission, which meets every 20 years, are now being challenged in court. Lawsuits have been filed against Amendment 8, which would impose term limits on school board members and expand the use of charter schools, and Amendment 13, which would ban greyhound racing. Several county governments have filed lawsuits against Amendment 10, which would require charter counties to elect all constitutional officers, including sheriffs.

The eight Constitution Revision Commission amendments are among 13 proposed constitutional changes on the November ballot. Each measure must win support from 60 percent of voters to be enacted.

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