Redeeming an Empty Promise: Procedural Justice, the Crime Victims‘ Rights Act, and the Victim‘s Right to Be Reasonably Protected from the Accused
Mary Margaret Giannini
Associate Professor of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law
October 31, 2011
Tennessee Law Review, Vol. 78, 2010
The federal Crime Victims‘ Rights Act (CVRA) provides victims with a host of rights, including reasonable protection from the accused. However, the current protection language in the CVRA offers very little to victims in the form of a meaningful, substantive, and enforceable right. Constitutional principles, tort immunity concepts, as well as other statutory limits within the CVRA itself, constrain the extent to which victims can rely on or enforce a right to protection. While the victim‘s CVRA right to protection may currently represent an empty promise, this article asserts that the right can be redeemed if it is interpreted and redefined by procedural justice principles. Many of the other rights granted to victims under the CVRA are naturally grounded in procedural justice theory. When framed in this manner, the CVRA affords victims a meaningful role in the prosecution of the offender, while also providing a tangible process by which to enforce their rights. This article proposes ways to bring the victim‘s protection right into alignment with procedural justice theory as well as with the other rights granted to victims under the CVRA. Viewing the CVRA‘s right to protection through procedural justice principles, the CVRA will cease to be an empty promise and instead, can serve crime victims in a meaningful way.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 58
Keywords: Victims' rights, procedural justice, Crime Victims' Rights Act, public duty doctrine, special duty doctrine
Date posted: November 1, 2011
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