Tuesday November 5, 2019

Photo by Gerri Miller

Monday’s High, 46; Overnight low, 41; .o3″ rain







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Polls are open until 8:00 pm today in Pennsylvania. Voters will be choosing township, borough and county officials, school board members, and judges. They will also be deciding a constitutional amendment dealing with victims’ rights…..Ridgway woman accused of assaulting two victims…Car/deer collisions investigated in Tioga and Cameron Counties…..

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Today is Municipal Election Day in Pennsylvania. Polls are open until 8:00 pm. Voters will be choosing a host of township, borough and county officials, school board members and judges. Voters will also be deciding a proposed constitutional amendment, which if approved by the electorate, will add a new section to Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution.  That amendment will provide victims of crimes with certain, new constitutional rights that must be protected in the same way as the rights afforded to individuals accused of committing a crime. The proposed amendment defines “victim” as both a person against whom the criminal act was committed and any person who was directly harmed by it.  The accused or any person a court decides is not acting in the best interest of a victim cannot be a victim. Generally, the proposed amendment would grant victims the constitutional right to receive notice and be present and speak at public proceedings involving the alleged criminal conduct.  It would also grant victims the constitutional right to receive notice of any escape or release of the accused and the right to have their safety and the safety of their family considered in setting the amount of bail and other release conditions.  It would also create several other new constitutional rights, such as the right to timely restitution and return of property, the right to refuse to answer questions asked by the accused, and the right to speak with a government attorney.

Specifically, the proposed amendment would establish the following new rights for victims:

To be treated with fairness and respect for the victim’s safety, dignity and privacy

To have the safety of the victim and the victim’s family considered in fixing the amount of bail and release conditions for the accused

To reasonable and timely notice of and to be present at all public proceedings involving the criminal or delinquent conduct

To be notified of any pretrial disposition of the case

With the exception of grand jury proceedings, to be heard in any proceeding where a right of the victim is implicated, including, but not limited to, release, plea, sentencing, disposition, parole and pardon

To be notified of all parole procedures, to participate in the parole process, to provide information to be considered before the parole of the offender, and to be notified of the parole of the offender

To reasonable protection from the accused or any person acting on behalf of the accused

To reasonable notice of any release or escape of the accused

To refuse an interview, deposition or other discovery request made by the accused or any person acting on behalf of the accused

Full and timely restitution from the person or entity convicted for the unlawful conduct

Full and timely restitution as determined by the court in a juvenile delinquency proceeding

To the prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence

To proceedings free from unreasonable delay and a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related postconviction proceedings

To confer with the attorney for the government

To be informed of all rights enumerated in this section

The proposed amendment would allow a victim or prosecutor to ask a court to enforce these constitutional rights but would not allow a victim to become a legal party to the criminal proceeding or sue the Commonwealth or any political subdivision, such as a county or municipality, for monetary damages.

Once added to the Pennsylvania Constitution, these specific rights of victims cannot be eliminated, except by a judicial decision finding all or part of the amendment unconstitutional or the approval of a subsequent constitutional amendment.  If approved, the General Assembly may pass a law to implement these new, constitutional rights, but it may not pass a law eliminating them.  If approved, State and local governments will need to create new procedures to ensure that victims receive the rights provided for by the amendment.

A 29 year old Ridgway woman has been arrested for assault with bodily injury for an incident allegedly taking place Monday afternoon on Oknefski Road in Ridgway. State police claim Tiffany Nicole Lunder injured a 41 year old Ridgway man and a 25 year old Kersey woman during an argument. She was arraigned before District Judge Martin who set bail at $5,000 unsecured.

Car/deer collisions were investigated over the weekend by state police at Mansfield and Emporium. Jarred Kowalskiof Bushkill, PA hit a whitetail late Saturday night on Route 15 in Liberty Township, Tioga County whle going north. He and his passenger Kascidee Shawver of Middleburg, PA were using seatbelts and were not hurt. State police at Emporium cited Rachel Brehm of that town for failing to report that her Chrysler Pacifica became disabled after colliding with a deer also late Saturday night on Route 120 about a half mile east of Old West Creek Road in Shippen township. Brehm  was also uninjured.