Oregon Limits Immunity From Criminal Prosecution Of Person Ordered To Testify About His or Her Conduct, Ballot Measure 73 (1999)
In 1999, a person could be ordered to give testimony about a crime the person is suspected of committing only if the person is given complete immunity from prosecution for that crime. Under the grant of complete immunity, the person cannot be prosecuted for the crime even if the state obtains evidence from a source independent of the person's testimony. Unless the state grants the person complete immunity, the person can refuse to testify.
The passage of this measure would have eliminated the complete immunity. Under this measure, a person could be made to testify about a crime the person is suspected of committing and could be prosecuted for the crime. However, the state would be prohibited from using the person's testimony or any information derived from that testimony against the person in the prosecution.
This measure failed at the November 1999 Special Election.
|Oregon Measure 73|
HJR 93 - Amends Constitution: Limits Immunity From Criminal Prosecution Of Person Ordered To Testify About His or Her Conduct
 State representative Kevin Mannix sponsored the measure, having been chief petitioner on a similar measure in 1996 (Measure 40), which was thrown out for violating the single-subject rule. The original measure was split up into measures 69-75 for the 1999 special election. Mannix reminded voters that the original measure had been passed in 1996 regarding this issue and encouraged them to vote "yes" again.
Many supporters argued that the measure ensures that criminals would be accountable for their actions no matter what. Some said the measure would protect Fifth Amendment rights but prevent criminals from using immunity as a shield from rightful prosecution.
Crime Victims United told the story of a case that could have been prevented with Measure 73.
"Take the case of the person who was the so-called "murder witness," who said he would only testify if he was given "absolute immunity." His attorney only wanted to protect his client's rights. The "witness" was given immunity. Unfortunately, he was the murderer and as a result of the Oregon law, he could never be prosecuted."
Geoff Sugerman of Crime Victims for Justice feared the measure was just another step towards turning Oregon into a "police state."
Many saw this measure, and the similar ones proposed in 1999, as a way of granting government and prosecutors more power, not about protecting the innocent.
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