Victims' Rights Advocates meet to discuss retention vote

Victims' Rights Advocates meet to discuss retention vote

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Family members of murder victims in East Tennessee are pushing for a change in the justice system to try and give victims more rights. Family members of murder victims in East Tennessee are pushing for a change in the justice system to try and give victims more rights.
“We just want someone to be more aware of victims and that they need rights just as many rights as the criminal does,” said Joan Berry. “We just want someone to be more aware of victims and that they need rights just as many rights as the criminal does,” said Joan Berry.
“Things that happened to us shouldn't happen to other people so things need to be changed,” said Mary Newsom. “Things that happened to us shouldn't happen to other people so things need to be changed,” said Mary Newsom.
By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Family members of murder victims in East Tennessee are pushing for a change in the justice system to try and give victims more rights. This is ahead of this year's elections as three State Supreme Court justices are up for a public vote.

Wednesday night the families discussed in detail opinions made by State Supreme Court Justices which could impact victim's rights. Voters will decide whether to retain three State Supreme Court Justices: Cornelia Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade.

Several family members of murder victims gathered in Knoxville to educate themselves on the opinions of the three State Supreme Court Justices up for a retention vote.

Joan Berry, whose daughter was murdered, attended the meeting.

“We just want someone to be more aware of victims and that they need rights just as many rights as the criminal does,” said Berry.

Verna Wyatt's sister was sexually assaulted and murdered. She now fights for victim's rights. She's been studying the opinions made by three State Supreme Court Justices.

“What I found was very appalling as a victim and as an advocate so I pulled those opinions out,” said Wyatt.

Wyatt says she's upset the justices weren't in support of showing a photo of a murder victim during a trial and felt their decisions limited victim impact statements.

Mary and Hugh Newsom also attended the meeting to learn more about the justice's decisions. Their son was brutally raped tortured and murdered in 2007. The Newsom's spent seven and a half years in and out of court as some of the defendants in the case received a retrial.

“Things that happened to us shouldn't happen to other people so things need to be changed,” said Mary Newsom.

There are a number of former and current prosecutors who have come out in support of these three justices. Also the State Fraternal Order of Police and Knox County DA Randy Nichols have endorsed the justices.

Victims’ advocates say they just want the public to be aware of the justice's opinions.

“Our victims don't have a voice so we have to make people aware of these and please educate yourself, look at what these judges have said,” said Berry.

Here’s a link to the victim's rights advocates facebook page about the retention vote. https://www.facebook.com/retentionvote#!/retentionvote

Here are some of the justices’ opinions. Some opinions relate to victim's pictures being shown during a trial and victim impact statements.

http://tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/adamsprinceopn.pdf

https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/OPINIONS/TSC/PDF/062/YoungLJ-opn.pdf

http://tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/sc_jason_calvert_v_state_of_tennessee.pdf

http://tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/phelpst_opn.pdf

Early voting starts Friday. Election Day is on Thursday, August 7th

 
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