Oregon Public Demand for Jury Trial, Measure 70 (1999)

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The Oregon Public Demand for Jury Trial Amendment, also known as Measure 70, was on the November 2, 1999 ballot in Oregon as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was defeated. The measure would have given the public, through the prosecutor, to demand jury trial in criminal cases.[1]

In 1999, the Oregon Constitution allowed only the accused person the right to demand a jury trial in a criminal case. If the accused person does not want a jury to determine whether the person is guilty or not guilty, the accused person can waive a jury trial. If the judge consents to the person's waiver, the case is tried to the judge alone and the judge determines whether the person is guilty or not guilty.

Election results

Oregon Measure 70 (1999)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No407,42958.44%
Yes 289,783 41.56%

Election results via: Oregon Blue Book

Ballot title

HJR 88 - Amends Constitution: Gives Public, Through Prosecutor, Right To Demand Jury Trial In Criminal Cases[2]

Support

[3] Representative Kevin Mannix was chief petitioner of the measure. He proposed a similar measure in 1996 (Measure 40), which was set aside because it violated Oregon's single-subject rule. He encouraged voters to vote "yes" on this new measure, saying, "designed to preserve and protect the right of crime victims, and the people, to justice by ensuring that the people also have a right to demand a jury trial."

Crime Victims United regretted that Mannix's 1996 measure was thrown out and strongly supported the new measure saying that Measure 40 "would have put an end to the practice of criminal defendants manipulating the system to find a sympathetic judge to try their case without a jury!"

Many supporters argued that Measure 70 ensures crime victims' rights and prevent the defense from "shopping" for a judge who will rule in their favor, without hindering the defendants right to a fair trial.

Opposition

[4] The Democratic Party of Lane County opposed the measure, reminding the voters that even they one day could be charged with a crime, possibly wrongfully, and that the measure would attack their rights.

They argued that prosecutors have no reason for wanting a jury trial over a bench trial and speculated that "the prosecutor might wish to exploit the inflammatory nature of the evidence before the jury, recognizing that in a bench trial, the judge would not be swayed by such evidence" and that "the prosecutor may wish to take advantage of jurors' lack of legal expertise."

State Representative Floyd Prozanski, who became a prosecutor after his daughter was murdered, opposed Measure 70 and similar measures proposed for the 1999 special election, arguing that "prosecutors don't need more power than judges in our courtrooms."

Many opposed feared the government giving more power to prosecutors. A number of crime victims shared their stories with the Secretary of State about their experience with the inefficiency of prosecutors in letters of opposition to the measure.

See also

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