Radio Report: Graham bill would provide legal counsel to crime victims


Under the law, criminal suspects have the right to an attorney at public expense if they cannot afford one. But what about victims of the crime? A bipartisan bill introduced Saturday in the state House of Representatives would give victims that same right. John Sattgast reports.

 Radio Report Transcript

SATTGAST: House Bill 1573 would require the courts to provide legal counsel to any victim of a felony offense if the victim is unable to afford counsel, if the expense of counsel would result in a substantial financial hardship, or if the victim does not have practical access to funds to pay for legal counsel.

The bill sponsor, Spokane Republican Representative Jenny Graham, whose sister was a victim of the Green River Killer, says the deck is stacked against crime victims. And that, she says, needs to change.

GRAHAM: “We should have balance in our justice system. And right now, we don't. Because crime victims do not even have representation. Prosecutors do not represent crime victims. They represent the interest of the state. So that's what the whole goal of this bill is, is to bring some balance back. Also, to start giving crime victims somebody that is watching out for their rights.”

SATTGAST: With only two weeks remaining of the legislative session, Graham knows passage of her bill this year is unlikely. But it begins an important dialogue and gives her legislation a head start for next year as Graham plans to work on it through the interim.

John Sattgast, the state Capitol.

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