What is Marsy's Law? Georgia voters pass Amendment 4

Vote sign in polling location

Voters in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oklahoma approved a controversial amendment known as Marsy's Law on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

The legislation, referred to as Georgia Amendment 4 on Tuesday's ballot, offers support for crime victims and their families. It's named for billionaire Marsalee "Marsy" Ann Nicholas, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. She was 21.

"Only a week after Marsy was murdered, Dr. Nicholas and Marsy's mother, Mrs. Marcella Leach, walked into a grocery store after visiting her daughter's grave and was confronted by the accused murderer. She had no idea that he had been released on bail," according to Marsy's Law for All, founded by Marsy's brother, Henry Nicholas.

Nicholas’ proposed legislation specifically giving victims the right to be told about criminal proceedings, the right to be protected from the accused and more, was passed in California in 2008.


Since then, several other states have added Marsy’s Law to their constitutions.

The law specifically gives victims the right to be told about criminal proceedings, the right to be protected from the accused and more.

Bert Poston, district attorney for Georgia’s Conasauga Judicial Circuit, previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the law “will establish a single procedure for when a victims’ rights are violated.”

The current process differs from circuit to circuit, he said. Under Marsy’s Law, if a victim feels as though their rights aren’t being respected, they can file a motion and have a court hearing scheduled so the complaints can be heard.

The Marsy’s Law Amendment passed both state legislature chambers unanimously this year, and in May, Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill to implement it if voters approve.

"If any good can come of something this horrible – the loss of my sister and the losses of other families of crime victims – it is that these violent acts served as a catalyst for change," Nicholas said. "Marsy's Law will provide for a more compassionate justice system for crime victims in California and make that a constitutional guarantee. Now the momentum can be put behind a U.S. Constitutional Amendment so that the rights of all crime victims, anywhere in America, can be protected."

Read more about Marsy’s Law.

This article was written by Fiza Pirani, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Comments on this article