In 1983, Marsy Nicholas, a University of California Santa Barbara student, was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend. After the crime, Marsy’s family suffered considerable distress, as they juggled coping with the loss of a beloved daughter while simultaneously dealing with her murderer’s presence in their town. In one instance, Marsy’s mother walked into a supermarket after visiting her daughter’s grave, and saw the accused murderer. She had no idea that he had been released on bail.
Marsy’s brother, Dr. Henry Nicholas III, recognized a severe disconnect between the legal rights accorded to accused criminals and those who have been victims of crimes, and set out to create and support Marsy’s Law. This new Victim’s Bill of Rights not only improved protection for crime victims, but focused on creating new rights for those whose family members have been victims of violent crimes.
After successfully passing Marsy's Law in California, Marsy’s Law for All worked to ensure numerous copycat bills were drafted for consideration in other states. As the U.S. Constitution does not award any rights to crime victims or their families, and “15 state constitutions do not extend enumerated rights to victims of crimes,” proponents of Marsy’s law focused their efforts on individual state constitutional amendments, mimicking the successful process in California. Born in Ohio, Dr. Nicholas desired to return to the Buckeye state and ensure Ohio crime victims were protected.
It is no surprise that Marsy’s law passed in Ohio, as the state has been known to prioritize victims’ rights in past legislation. In 1994, nearly 78% of voters approved an amendment to the Ohio state constitution affording rights and protection to crime victims.
For more information about the history of Marsy’s law, click here.