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Arizona Pushes to Revive Law Limiting Defense Access to Victims

The state of Arizona defended before a Ninth Circuit panel Monday a law that prohibits criminal defense attorneys from contacting victims without going through the prosecutor’s office, reports Courthouse News Service. A federal judge overturned the law in 2022 in a lawsuit filed by Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, a statewide non-profit made up of defense lawyers, law students and other associated professionals. The group says the law violates the First Amendment rights of defense attorneys, and is too broad, restricting all speech rather than just illegal speech.  The law dictates that once a DA initiates a request to interview a victim, the prosecutor is to notify the victim of the request, and remind them of their right to decline.  

But on Monday, the state was hoping that the Ninth Circuit would revive the law. Alexander Samuels, representing Arizona’s attorney general in the Monday morning appeal hearing, said the procedure ensures a victim’s rights are upheld. Without it, a defense attorney could catch a victim off guard when they may not know they’re allowed to refuse an interview, he said. The judges on the panel seemed concerned with the implications. U.S. Circuit Judge Andrew Hurwitz said during arguments that the law's framework created "a disparate treatment of prosecutors and defense counsel." It's unclear when the panel will rule.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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