Rep. Hazlewood Moves To Strengthen Marsy's Law In State Constitution

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

State Senator John Stevens of Huntingdon and State Rep. Patsy Hazlewood of Signal Mountain said they are introducing a constitutional amendment this legislative session to strengthen the rights of crime victims in Tennessee’s state Constitution.


Rep. Hazlewood took the first step Thursday by introducing House Joint Resolution 44, known as Marsy’s Law.

A similar bill generated support of co-sponsors, organizations, and advocates across the state during the last session. 


“It is critical that we continue to fight for Tennessee’s most vulnerable, especially at a time when crime is rising and so many are suffering,” said Rep. Hazlewood. “Under current law, the rights of victims are not always enforced. Marsy’s Law would guarantee victim protections in the state’s most powerful legal document.”


Advocates for the measure said, "More than 20 years ago, 89 percent of Tennesseans voted to give crime victims the rights they deserve by adopting a Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. But unfortunately, victims too often find these rights unenforceable under current law and the rights of victims are not always protected.


"The bill presented by Senator Stevens and Rep. Hazlewood would update the current language to spell out clear, enforceable rights and protections for victims in our state constitution.  If passed in two consecutive legislative sessions and signed by the governor, the constitutional amendment guaranteeing these protections would be placed on the 2026 ballot for voters to approve."


“We plan to work to strengthen the constitutional rights of victims of crime,” said Senator Stevens. “Victims need our support and deserve greater protection. That’s why we are working together with victims, law enforcement, and our colleagues from all across the state to pass Marsy’s Law.”


Tina Gregg’s daughter, Brooke Morris, was stalked and murdered by her ex-boyfriend and boss in 2011. She was shot three times while running for her life on the side of a Roane County road. Her body was found by a passing driver. The mother was never notified when the man charged with her daughter's murder left the state. She instead had to find out on Facebook, it was stated. 


“It’s been 10 years since Brooke was stolen from our family and the pain never goes away,” Tina Gregg said. “But we find comfort in honoring her legacy by fighting to make sure the legal system doesn’t add any more pain to victims and their families. I strongly encourage our lawmakers to pass Marsy’s Law in Tennessee.” 


The group said adopting Marsy’s Law in Tennessee "will provide victims with the ability to assert the critical rights to which they are promised" including: 


  • The right to be treated with fairness for the victim's safety, dignity, and privacy;

  • The right, upon request, to reasonable and timely notice of, and to be present at, all criminal public proceedings and all juvenile delinquency proceedings involving the accused; 

  • The right to be heard in any proceeding involving release, plea, sentencing, disposition, and parole, as well as any public proceeding when relevant during which a right of the victim is implicated;

  • The right to be free from harassment, intimidation, and abuse throughout the criminal justice system, including reasonable protection from the accused or any person acting on behalf of the accused; 

  • The right, upon request, to reasonable notice of any release, transfer, or escape of the accused or convicted person;

  • The right to full and timely restitution from the offender;

  • The right to a speedy trial or disposition and a prompt and final conclusion of the case after the conviction or sentence;

  • The right, upon request, to confer with the prosecution; 

  • The right to be fully informed of all rights afforded to crime victims. 



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