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Arizona Crime Victims Protection Act Amendment, Proposition 114 (2012)

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Proposition 114
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Article II, Section 31
Referred by:Arizona State Legislature
Topic:Law enforcement
Status:On the ballot
The Arizona Crime Victims Protection Act Amendment, also known as Proposition 114, is on the November 6, 2012 general election ballot in the state of Arizona as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure would prohibit crime victims from being subject to a claim for damages for causing harm to a person if that person is killed or injured when engaging in, or fleeing after, a felony crime. It was introduced during 2011 state legislative session, where its formal title was SCR 1020.[1][2]

Election results

See also: 2012 ballot measure election results

LIVE election results will be posted when polls close on November 6, 2012 and when numbers start to roll in.

Arizona Proposition 114
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Result not yet known  

Text of measure

Ballot language

The ballot language of the measure reads as follows:

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

A "yes" vote shall have the effect of protecting crime victims from having to pay damages to a person who was injured while that person committed or attempted to commit a felony against the victim

A "no" vote shall have the effect of keeping current constitutional law related to liability for damages.

Analysis by Legislative Council

The following is an analysis of the measure by the Legislative Council, found in the state voter guide:[3]

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

Proposition 114 would amend the Arizona Constitution to provide that a crime victim is not liable for damages incurred by a person who was harmed while attempting, engaging in or fleeing from conduct that is classified as a felony offense.

Under current law, Article II, section 31 and Article XVIII, section 6 of the Arizona Constitution generally provide that the right to recover for damages for death or injury may not be limited. Proposition 114 would amend these sections of the Arizona Constitution to provide an exception that a crime victim is not subject to a claim for damages by a person who is harmed while attempting to engage in conduct classified as a felony offense, while engaging in conduct classified as a felony offense or while fleeing from such conduct.

Article II, section 2.1 of the Arizona Constitution provides that a "victim" is a person against whom a criminal offense has been committed, or if that person is killed or incapacitated, that person's spouse, parent, child or other lawful representative.

Constitutional changes

Article II, section 31 and Article XVIII, section 6 of of the Arizona Constitution would be amended to read as follows:[1]

Article II, Section 31

No law shall be enacted in this state limiting the amount of damages to be recovered for causing the death or injury of any person, except that a crime victim is not subject to a claim for damages by a person who is harmed while the person is attempting to engage in, engaging in or fleeing after having engaged in or attempted to engage in conduct that is classified as a felony offense.

Article XVIII, Section 6

The right of action to recover damages for injuries shall never be abrogated, and the amount recovered shall not be subject to any statutory limitation, except that a crime victim is not subject to a claim for damages by a person who is harmed while the person is attempting to engage in, engaging in or fleeing after having engaged in or attempted to engage in conduct that is classified as a felony offense.

The current sections reads as follows:

Text of Article II, Section 31:

Damages for Death or Personal Injuries

No law shall be enacted in this state limiting the amount of damages to be recovered for causing the death or injury of any person.

Text of Article XVIII, Section 6:

Recovery of Damages for Injuries

The right of action to recover damages for injuries shall never be abrogated, and the amount recovered shall not be subject to any statutory limitation.[4]

Support

Supporters

The following are supporters of the measure:

  • State Senator Russell Pearce is the first measure sponsor listed on the official overview of the bill.[2]
  • State Senator Steve Smith stated, "Quite simply put, this is a great way to ensure that a criminal is never able to sue the very person they victimized (yes, you would be surprised that this can and does happen)."[5]
  • According to a letter written by Dave Kopp and John Wentling, President and Vice President of the Arizona Citizens Defense League, "The Arizona Constitution protects an unrestricted right to sue for damages, and, for the most part, that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, that protection also allows a criminal to sue you if he gets hurt while committing a crime."[6]

Arguments

The following are arguments submitted to the Arizona Secretary of State:[3]

  • "Here is a simple and good idea. Let's stop the bad guys from suing their victims. Do you believe a criminal should be able to sue you, after assaulting you, robbing you, and/or raping you? An unrestricted constitutional "right to sue" exists, which even permits criminals to sue those they victimize." A person's home is their castle", however our Arizona Constitution allows anyone to sue for any reason and offers little protection to a property owner who defends his family, or his property from violent criminals (home invasion, burglary, arson, etc.). For example, a burglar breaks into your home and your dog bites him, you can be successfully sued for any injury sustained by the burglar!"
  • "Please vote yes on Proposition 114, the Crime Victims Protection Act, and let's ensure that a criminal is never able to sue the very person they victimized."
Submitted by Russell Pearce, Former President of the Arizona State Senate.

Opposition

  • According to House Majority Leader Chad Campbell, speaking on behalf of legislators who oppose the measure, "A lot of us have concerns. Obviously, I don't think anybody committing a crime should be able to sue their victim." However, Campbell said that the broad wording of the measure could lead to situations where civil immunity would be granted to a person who shoots an alleged criminal in the back.[7]
  • State Rep. Ruben Gallego stated that the measure is unnecessary, saying, "There’s a reason we have our form of judicial system. You have to give some respect to the jury system and to our judges. They’re going to be able to determine most of the time whether someone deserves money or not."[8]

Arguments

No arguments against the measure were submitted to the Arizona Secretary of State for the state voter guide.[3]

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Arizona ballot measures, 2012

Support

  • The Yuma Sun stated, "Voters will have to decide if this universal protection of victims is appropriate. There seems to be little opposition and that is understandable. Most people don't want a victim to be vulnerable to a civil lawsuit from a criminal who seriously harms them."[9]

Opposition

  • The Arizona Republic stated, "One day, a criminal indeed may take advantage of Arizona's constitutional provisions protecting a citizen's right to sue. One day, a court conceivably may entertain a claim against some poor robbery victim who righteously blew off the kneecap of the criminal who assaulted him. It is possible. But it hasn't happened yet. And restricting constitutional rights based on theoretical expectations rarely turn out well. Things rarely turn out as we expect them to."[10]

Path to the ballot

A majority vote is required in the Arizona State Legislature to send a constitutional amendment to the ballot. Arizona is one of ten states that allow a referred amendment to go on the ballot after a majority vote in one session of the state's legislature.[2]

Senate

The measure was first read to the Arizona State Senate on January 26, 2011, and was passed to the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committees that same day. The measure was read for the second time on January 27, 2011.[2]

On February 7, 2011, the Judiciary Committee voted 6 to 1 in favor, and the Rules Committee voted in favor on February 14, 2011, allowing the full chamber to review the proposal. A vote tally for the Rules Committee vote was not included on the overview of SCR 1020. Then on February 22, 2011, a final vote took place in the chamber, where the amendment was approved with a vote of 21 to 9, sending it to the Arizona House of Representatives. To see which state senators voted for and against the measure, click here

House of Representatives

After being transmitted to the House, Senate Concurrent Resolution 1020 was first read to the chamber on March 21, 2011, where it was then assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and the House Rules Committee the same day. It was approved by both committees, with the Judiciary Committee approving it on March 24, 2011 with a vote of 6 to 3. Then, on April 4, 2011, the Rules Committee voted 7 to 0 in favor, placing it in front of the full chamber for consideration.[2]

The House voted in favor of placing the proposal on the November 6, 2012 general election ballot on April 12, 2011, with a vote of 40 to 19, transmitting it to the Arizona Secretary of State to be placed on the ballot. To see which state representatives voted for and against the measure, click here.

Timeline

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The following is a timeline of events surrounding the measure:

Event Date Developments
First Reading Jan. 26, 2011 The measure was first read to the Arizona State Senate.
Second Reading Jan. 27, 2011 The measure was read for a second time to the Senate.
Vote Feb. 7, 2011 The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6 to 1 in favor.
Vote Feb 14, 2011 Senate Rules Committee voted in favor of measure.
Vote Feb. 27, 2011 The amendment was approved with a vote of 21 to 9 by the Senate.
First Reading Mar. 21, 2011 Measure first read to House; Judiciary Committee approved with a vote of 6 to 3.
Vote Apr. 14, 2011 House Rules Committee voted 7 to 0 in favor of measure.
Final Vote Apr. 12, 2011 The House voted in favor of placing the proposal on ballot.

See also

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References