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Governor Christie: This Is An Opportunity To Honor Alex

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Published on Aug 7, 2012

Alex DeCroce Victim's Rights Bill Signing
State House
August 7, 2012 (Transcript Below)

Governor Christie: I'm particularly honored to be able to share the moment with Betty Lou who is here today and who has picked up Alex's work on this issue and many other issues now in the State Assembly and has seen this law through to the completion. So Betty Lou thank you for your friendship and thank you for being here, for working to give us the opportunity to honor Alex in the law he would want to be honored, which is on substance and this is an issue as we both know, he cared deeply about. It was a personal commitment to him and one that was born out of his sense of fairness and his really loving heart. He cared so much for others who had suffered great personal loss and always was there for them not only in terms of as a legislator but as a friend and as a listening ear. We know that he became a pioneer in this movement early in his career in the legislature, sponsoring a landmark amendment to the New Jersey constitution that secured certain protections for crime victims and their families. The right to be treated with dignity and compassion by the criminal justice system, the right to be advised of case progress and final disposition and the right to make an in person statement directly to the sentencing court. So putting my name now on legislation that's named for Alex that furthers these goals is definitely a highlight for me in my governorship. I will tell you, I miss Alex every day. He was a mentor to me. His enthusiasm, his energy and just his spirit is something that these hallways miss. He was someone who had friends on both sides of the aisle who had been there for quite some time. He knew how to make things work. He knew how to fight when you needed to but also knew how to make a deal when you need to also. I wish we had more of that in this building now and we're lesser for it with Alex no longer here. But what Alex would say to me is enough of the crap Chris, move on to the important stuff. That's the way he would look at it. So what does this legislation that I just signed do? It focuses on the expansion and the clarification that victims have the right to be free from harassment and abuse by any person including the defendant or any person acting in support of or on behalf of the defendant. The assurance that medical assistance is provided to the victim if it relates to the incident involved. The expansion of rights to confer with the prosecutor's representative to be kept informed as well as timely notification regarding case progress and scheduling court proceedings or appearances, consideration of victims statements in pre trial determinations and plea agreements, something that's been a real bone of contention with a lot of people in the victims' rights movement and the right to be present in open court proceedings unless they're sequestered by the court and allowing victims, families and homicide prosecutions to display pictures of the victim during the sentencing statements. This law furthers my commitment, Alex's commitment, the commitment of both parties in the legislature to ensure that crime victims in our state have every protection they deserve and are afforded the rights that are guaranteed them under our constitution. So for all the sponsors who are here today and who worked hard on this in both parties I want to say thank you. We'll continue to honor Alex's work by continuing to make sure that his work has meaning in our everyday lives. That we continue to hold true to the idea that those folks who are unfortunate enough to be victims of crime, both the ones who perish and the survivors will be treated with respect by the criminal justice system. Obviously having spent seven years of my life as a prosecutor, these words have great meaning to us and for many of the members of my administration who are here today who also spent a good part of their careers in prosecution. First Assistant Attorney General Tom Calcagni is here and he understands this from his years in the U.S. Attorney's Office and now in the Attorney General's Office and I thank him for being here today and for representing the Attorney General and the Department of Law and Public Safety. Thank you to all of the sponsors, thank you to Betty Lou for being here, being strong because that's exactly what Alex would expect of you and me, to continue to be strong and to do our jobs the way he taught us to do them. Today's just another step in that direction and I look forward to a lot more steps with you as we go forward together to make the state a better place.

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