AZ defense attorneys can challenge law that prevents contacting crime victims

By Jill Ryan
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Published: Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 10:04am

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court ruled that criminal defense attorneys in Arizona are now free to challenge a state law that prohibits them from directly contacting crime victims and their families.

A 1991 Arizona statute required those lawyers go through the prosecutor's office if they wanted to contact crime victims or their families. 

But Jared Keenan, with the American Civil Liberties Union, argued on behalf of the defense lawyers. He says the measure, which has no parallel in the other 49 states, has legal issues.

"There are many instances where prosecutors simply ignore the views of the victims when the views of those victims don't coincide with what the prosecutor wants, which is generally the harshest penalty they can get in every single case," Keenan said. 

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a bid by Attorney General Mark Brnovich to overturn an appellate court ruling saying that the defense lawyers have a right to sue.

But even if a suit is successful, this will not force crime victims to speak with defense lawyers if they don’t wish to.

Law Enforcement