The other day some of us saw the end of an old “Law & Order” episode in which District Attorney Adam Schiff remarked to ADA McCoy: “Three felony convictions. Everyone’s happy – except the victim.”
Victims of crimes are too often overlooked in many jurisdictions’ ongoing debates over criminal justice. However, that is not true in Maryland, to the credit of the state’s citizens and public servants. Maryland was one of the first states to pass laws providing compensation for criminal injuries for victims and/or their loved ones. As a result, Maryland for decades has had a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB) that provides financial and other assistance to those in need of such aid because they, or people close to them, have been injured in a crime.
Maryland’s attention to victims has continued in recent years: In 2018 the Maryland legislature and governor established a Victims’ Services Unit to more effectively support crime victims. And the General Assembly, in its recently completed session, passed a measure requested by Gov. Larry Hogan to enable victims of criminal injuries, and/or their loved ones, to “e-file” their claims with the CICB.
When it goes into effect, this new law will continue to allow those seeking compensation for criminal injuries to submit their claims in person or by mail. But it also will offer a new option for such claims to be filed by electronic means in a manner to be defined by the CICB. The CICB would also be required to accept such filings and to notify the filer of receipt within 10 days.
Establishing electronic filing will clearly make filing easier for victims of criminal injuries who, because of where they reside or perhaps because of where they are being treated for their injuries, must submit their claims from locations distant from the CICB’s site in Annapolis. Electronic filing is also likely to simplify and ease the claim process for claimants from throughout the state of Maryland, especially those who in the future could likely file their claim by mobile phone. In the Maryland spirit of not overlooking any crime victims, it should be pointed out that claimants who do not possess their own electronic technology will be able to e-file using free technology available in public libraries and elsewhere.
The Maryland Department of Legislative Services concluded that e-filing will not significantly affect state finances or negatively affect small businesses. By proposing and enacting this law, Gov. Hogan and the General Assembly have continued Maryland’s impressive record of taking care of victims of crimes and those who depend on those victims.
EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS
James B. Astrachan, Chair
James K. Archibald
John Bainbridge Jr.
Martha Ertman (on sabbatical)
Arthur F. Fergenson
Angela W. Russell
Debra G. Schubert
The Daily Record Editorial Advisory Board is composed of members of the legal profession who serve voluntarily and are independent of The Daily Record. Through their ongoing exchange of views, members of the board attempt to develop consensus on issues of importance to the bench, bar and public. When their minds meet, unsigned opinions will result. When they differ, or if a conflict exists, majority views and the names of members who do not participate will appear. Members of the community are invited to contribute letters to the editor and/or columns about opinions expressed by the Editorial Advisory Board.