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Copyright (c) 1987 Southern California Law Review
University of Southern California

NOTE: PROPOSITION 8 AND THE CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT: INTERPRETATION RUN RIOT?

January, 1987

Southern California Law Review

60 S. Cal. L. Rev. 540

Author

John L. Segal *

Excerpt

I. PROPOSITION 8: THE "VICTIMS' BILL OF RIGHTS"

On June 8, 1982, the people of the State of California enacted by referendum Proposition 8, the "Victims' Bill of Rights." 1 The new law added article I, section 28 to the California Constitution and amended sections of the California Evidence, Penal, and Welfare & Institutions Codes. 2 Proposition 8 provided for "broad reforms in the procedural treatment of accused persons," 3 and was designed to "fully protect" the rights of victims of crimes. In particular, to further these goals subdivision (d) of section 28 provides that "relevant evidence shall not be excluded in any criminal proceeding," 4 and subdivision (f) provides that "[a]ny prior felony conviction of any person in any criminal proceeding . . . shall subsequently be used without limitation for purposes of impeachment or enhancement of sentence in any criminal proceeding." 5

These reforms were inspired by doctrinal developments in California criminal law and procedure announced and developed by the California Supreme Court over the previous twenty years. 6 The Lieutenant Governor of California, arguing in favor of Proposition 8, wrote: "For too long our courts . . . have demonstrated more concern with the rights of criminals than with the rights of innocent victims. This trend must be reversed." 7 The state Attorney General added: "[H]igher courts of this state have created additional rights for the criminally accused. . . . This proposition will overcome some of the adverse decisions by our higher courts." 8
 
 
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