Crime Victims Organizations as Amici Curiae in Criminal Trial Courts – A New Beginning?
45 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2019 Last revised: 3 May 2021
Date Written: September 27, 2019
This Article examines the adequate judicial policy regarding adding crime victim's organizations as Amici Curiae in criminal cases in the U.S., with a special focus on criminal trial courts. The Article focuses on the principle legal position that objects to the addition of such crime victims organizations as Amici Curiae in criminal proceedings, based mainly on the judicial tradition of the common law. This tradition holds that the defendants are not supposed to face another prosecutor - not just state or federal prosecutors - but additional third parties such as crime victim's organizations. In this article, I will argue that in spite of possible concerns, mainly regarding harming the defendants' rights, in certain cases, and subject to certain judicial guarantees, the courts should allow the addition of crime victims’ organizations as Amici Curiae. Such judicial policy should be carried out in a balanced manner, by maintaining the delicate balance between the rights of crime victims and the rights of the defendants, subject to judicial guarantees which will ensure the fairness of the process.
The thesis behind this article is based on three main justifications: First, the modern criminal process decisions are related directly to the crime victims. If the interests of the crime victims are not fully represented, then such process harms their dignity by viewing them solely as an instrumental tool for carrying out the criminal process (this argument became more pronounced recently due to the "Me-Too" movement). Second, often there is an inconsistency between the interests of the crime victims and the interests of the entities tasked with their representation in courts. This inconsistency requires their independent representation on important issues as amici. Third, from an institutional perspective, listening to the independent position of crime victims’ as Amici Curiae could help facilitate a more comprehensive judicial decision, one which is more informative, and it may even strengthen the institutional legitimacy of the courts in the eyes of the public in general, and of the crime victims in particular.
Keywords: Crime Victims Organizations, Criminal Trial Courts, Criminal Law, Amicus, Friend of the Court
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