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The Expansion of Victims’ Rights in American Criminal Procedure

Professor Paul Cassell will discuss the recent expansion of crime victims’ rights in American criminal procedure. At America’s founding, crime victims participated in criminal prosecutions through private prosecution. But over time, a system of public prosecution largely displaced crime victims from any formal role in the process. In response to the fact that victims have been largely overlooked in criminal processes, over the last three decades, the federal government and many American states have adopted state constitutional amendments protecting the rights of crime victims. Many of these enactments give victims the ability to enforce their rights through litigation in American courts.