California Proposition 9, Marsy's Law (2008)
- 1 Aftermath
- 2 Election results
- 3 Constitutional changes
- 4 Ballot language
- 5 Support
- 6 Opposition
- 7 Editorial opinion
- 8 Lawsuits
- 9 Path to the ballot
- 10 External links
- 11 References
Specifically, under the provisions of Proposition 9:
- Victims and their families are to be notified during all aspects of the justice process, including bail, sentencing and parole.
- Authorities must take a victims' safety into concern when assigning bail or conducting a parole review.
California voters first approved official victims' rights in 1982 when they approved Proposition 8, The Victims' Bill of Rights.
|California Proposition 9 (2008)|
Turnout: 79.4% of registered
- Final results from the California Secretary of State
The ballot title was:
The official summary provided to describe Proposition 9 said:
- Requires notification to victim and opportunity for input during phases of criminal justice process, including bail, pleas, sentencing and parole.
- Establishes victim safety as consideration in determining bail or release on parole.
- Increases the number of people permitted to attend and testify on behalf of victims at parole hearings.
- Reduces the number of parole hearings to which prisoners are entitled.
- Requires that victims receive written notification of their constitutional rights.
- Establishes timelines and procedures concerning parole revocation hearings.
- See also: Fiscal impact statement
The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:
- Potential loss of future state savings on prison operations and potential increased county jail operating costs that could collectively amount to hundreds of millions of dollars annually, due to restricting the early release of inmates to reduce facility overcrowding.
- Net savings in the low tens of millions of dollars annually for the administration of parole hearings and revocations, unless the changes in parole revocation procedures were found to conflict with federal legal requirements.
Proposition 9 was sponsored by Henry Nicholas and his family. Nicholas, who donated $4,845,000.00 to the campaign to put Marsy's Law on the ballot, stepped away from active support of the Marsy's Law campaign when a criminal indictment on drug and securities offenses was unsealed in June 2008 so as not to serve as a distraction during the campaign. ,
Other backers of Proposition 9 were the California Coalition of Law Enforcement Associations, the California Farm Bureau Federation, and Crime Victims United of California.
Arguments in favor
Notable arguments that were made in favor of Proposition 9 included:
- Proposition 9 would save money because under the current system, taxpayers are spending money to fund hearings for criminals who have little chance of release. For example, supporters of Prop 9 argue, "'Helter Skelter' inmates Bruce Davis and Leslie Van Houten, followers of Charles Manson, convicted of multiple brutal murders, have had 38 parole hearings in 30 years. That’s 38 times the families involved have been forced to relive the painful crime and pay their own expenses to attend the hearing, plus 38 hearings that taxpayers have had to subsidize."
- The rights of victims are important.
- Parole judges could increase the number of years between parole hearings typically to 15 years, saving money.
$5,149,931 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Proposition 9.
Donors of $50,000 or more were:
|Crime Victims United of California||$100,000|
|California Correctional Peace Officers Association||$85,000|
|Marcella M. Leach||$50,240|
Notable opponents included:
- California Democratic Party
- California Professional Firefighters
- California Teachers Association
- California Church IMPACT
- The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
- The American Friends Service Committee Pacific Mountain Region
Notable arguments that were made against Proposition 9 included:
- Voters already approved many components of Proposition 9 when they passed California Proposition 8 (1982), including the requirements that victims be notified of critical points in an offender’s legal process as well as the rights for victims to be heard throughout the legal process.
- Proposition 9 amounts to political grandstanding without really changing any significant problems in the criminal justice system.
- The provision in Proposition 9 to stop early release of criminals could end up costing the taxpayer in the "hundreds of millions"
- The annual parole rate for those convicted of second degree murder or manslaughter has been less than 1% of those eligible for parole for the last twenty years. Opponents of Proposition 9 say this means that the taxpayers would spend a lot of money with minimal resulting changes, since at most Proposition 9 would affect early parole of 1% of the most violent criminal population.
- Money spent enforcing the provisions of Proposition 9 won't be available for other important government programs.
Donors of $100,000 or more were:
|California Teachers Association||$955,911|
|California State Council of Service Employees/SEIU||$572,805|
|California Democratic Party||$467,129|
|California Federation of Teachers||$100,000|
"Yes on 9"
"No on 9"
The Los Angeles Times encouraged a "no" vote on 9, saying, "If the concern is protection of families from further victimization, as proponents claim, that goal can be met without granting families a new and inappropriate role in prosecutions."
Other editorial boards opposed:
- See also: List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2012
Valdivia v. Brown
|2012 measure lawsuits|
| Arizona • Arkansas • Colorado • Florida • Maryland |
Michigan • Massachusetts • Minnesota
Missouri • Montana • Nevada
North Dakota • Ohio • Oklahoma
Oregon • Rhode Island
|By lawsuit type|
|Ballot text |
Motivation of sponsors
On January 24, 2012, U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton ruled in the class-action lawsuit case Valdivia v. Brown (S-94-671 LKK) that the part of the Victims' Bill of Rights created under Proposition 9 which govern parole revocation was unconstitutional. Karlton stated that the parole revocation laws, which had been codified in the state penal code, in part violated minimum due process provided by the constitution and affirmed under two U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 (Morrissey v. Brewer) and 1973 (Gagnon v. Scarpell). The law was also found to violate certain rights to a lawyer and rights to a neutral and detached hearing body. While several provisions were upheld, Karlton ruled that they could not stand alone and therefore struck down the entire parole revocation law.
- The ruling can be found here.
2009 and 2010 rulings
On March 26, 2009, Karlton had blocked part of the measure, arguing that the proposition did not nullify the administration's settlement of the class-action inmate rights lawsuit. The judge had previously issued a stay on a portion of the measure after the November election. 
However, in March 2010, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit overturned the 2009 Karlton ruling and said that Proposition 9's provision that legal counsel must be provided by the state only in particularly complex cases can stand.
Kent Scheidegger of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation said of the March 2010 decision, "Today's decision makes it clear that a judge's order to grant more rights to parolees than constitutionally required does not trump a state constitutional amendment adopted by the people." Scheidegger helped draft Proposition 9.
Federal appellate judges John T. Noonan, Michael Daly Hawkins and Milan D. Smith Jr. wrote the decision upholding Proposition 9. Their decision says:
- "Because the district court made no express determination that any aspect of the California parole revocation procedures, as modified by Proposition 9, violated constitutional rights, or that the injunction was necessary to remedy a constitutional violation, we vacate and remand the March 2009 order for the district court to make that determination and reconcile the injunction with California law as expressed in Proposition 9."
Esteban Núñez commutation lawsuit
Esteban Núñez, the son of Former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, received a 16-year voluntary manslaughter sentence after killing Luis Santos, a 22-year-old student at San Diego Mesa College in 2008.
In 2011, as one of his last acts in office, then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted Esteban's 16-year sentence to seven years. However, Schwarzegger did not notify the victim's family of this commutation. Under Proposition 9, Schwarzenegger was required to provide that notice. Since he did not, two separate lawsuits were started, one by the victim's family in Sacramento where they live, and one by the San Diego County Deputy District Attorney in San Diego where the incident happened. Those lawsuits were later combined.
Path to the ballot
- See also: California signature requirements
As an initiated constitutional amendment, 694,354 signatures were required to qualify Proposition 9 for the ballot.
The signature-gathering drive to qualify Proposition 9 for the ballot was managed by Bader & Associates, Inc., a petition management company owned by Tom Bader and Joy Bader, at a cost of $2,258,034.00.
- Official Voter's Guide to Proposition 9
- PDF of the mailed November 4, 2008 voter guide for Proposition 9
- November 4, 2008 ballot proposition election returns
- Proposition 9 in the Smart Voter Guide
- Analysis of Proposition 9 from the Institute of Governmental Studies
- Guide to Proposition 9 from the California Voter Foundation
- Summary of donors to and against Proposition 9 from Cal-Access
- Donors for and against Proposition 9 from Follow The Money
- Signature validation progress report (archival)
- No on Proposition 9 campaign website
- Vote No on 9 grassroots website
- Props. 6 and 9 Reader, Harvard Law School blog
- Curb Prison Spending/No on 9
- Proposition 9 would give crime victims a stronger voice, but critics say it could violate inmates' rights, Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2008
- Number nine, number nine, number nine, Los Angeles Times, June 6, 2008
- Official election results
- Los Angeles Times, "California's Propositions", September 21, 2008
- The Sacramento Bee, "Judge strikes parole-revocation provisions in California law," January 26, 2012]
- Los Angeles Times, The Two Nicholases, June 11, 2008.
- Campaign donation from Nicholas to Marsy's Law committee
- Arguments in favor of Prop 9 from the California voters guide
- Follow the Money, "Donors to Yes on Proposition 9"
- Registration information for the No on 6 & 9 committee
- Arguments against Proposition 9 from the California voter's guide
- Follow the Money, "Donors to No on Propositions 6 & 9"
- Eureka Reporter, "The Eureka Reporter recommends," October 14, 2008.
- Gay and Lesbian Times, "Our endorsements for state and local propositions," October 9, 2008.
- Los Angeles Times, "No on Proposition 9", September 26, 2008
- Pasadena Star News, "Vote 'no' on props. 6 and 9", October 6, 2008
- Press Democrat, "Wrong Way," September 8, 2008
- Press Enterprise, "No on 9," September 12, 2008
- Tracy Press, "Proposition 9 has victims as a concern, but it would put too much burden on our prison system if it passes," September 23, 2008.
- San Diego Union Tribune, "No on Prop 9: Measure is poorly drafted and wrongheaded," September 25, 2008
- Orange County Register, "California Proposition 9 Editorial: Unnecessary tinkering with constitution," October 2, 2008
- Sacramento Bee, "Proposition 9", October 9, 2008
- San Francisco Chronicle, "Props. 6 and 9 are budget busters," October 9, 2008.
- Bakersfield Californian, "Ballot-box budgeting: Vote NO on Props 6 and 9," October 9, 2008
- La Opinion, "Two Measures to Reject," October 12, 2008
- Fresno Bee, "Vote 'no' on Proposition 9, an ill-considered crime victims bill," October 13, 2008.
- Woodland Daily Democrat, "Voters should turn down Props. 5, 6, and 9", October 14, 2008.
- San Jose Mercury News, "Editorial: Proposition 9 would increase prison costs; vote no," October 14, 2008.
- Chico Enterprise-Record, "Flawed measures should be rejected," October 16, 2008.
- Stockton Record, "Proposition 9 - No," October 16, 2008.
- New York Times, "Fiscal Disaster in California," October 9, 2008.
- Contra Costa Times, "Times recommendations on California propositions," October 19, 2008.
- San Gabriel Valley Tribune, "Propositions in Review," October 19, 2008.
- Napa Valley Register, Vote No On Proposition 9, October 16, 2008
- Salinas Californian, "Vote no on state Props. 5, 6 and 9," October 18, 2008.
- Monterey County Herald, "Proposition endorsements," October 17, 2008.
- Long Beach Press-Telegram, "No on Proposition 9," October 4, 2008.
- Desert Dispatch, "Victims' Rights Yes, Amendment No," October 8, 2008
- The Reporter, "Vote No on Proposition 9," October 22, 2008.
- Los Angeles Daily News, "No on Props. 5, 6, and 9.
- Santa Cruz Sentinel, "As We See It: Vote No on Props. 6 and 9," October 15, 2008.
- Modesto Bee, "Proposition 9 is too ambitious," October 9 2008.
- The Appeal-Democrat, "Our View: Victims’ rights Proposition 9 doesn’t seem necessary," October 5, 2008.
- Record Searchlight, "Victims' rights act only on paper," October 10, 2008.
- Milpitas Post, "Blasting some of the worst propositions," October 9, 2008.
- SFGate.com, "Parole-revoking rules toughened by Prop. 9 tossed," January 27, 2012
- California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation , "Victim's Bill of Rights Act of 2008: Marsy's Law"
- Mercury News, "Federal judge limits Calif. crime victims measure", March 26, 2009
- Los Angeles Times, "Appeals court backs Proposition 9 parole revocation rule", March 26, 2010
- San Francisco Chronicle, "Fabian Núñez's words enrage slain man's family", July 12, 2011
- The Sacramento Bee, "Nunez, Schwarzenegger commutation case to stay in Sacramento," August 4, 2011
- News 10, "Marsy's Law" Seeks New Rights For Crime Victims
- Sacramento Bee, Signatures submitted for victims' ballot measure, April 28, 2008
- Campaign expenditure details