LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

New Law Enhances Crime Victims’ Rights

A bi-partisan group of legislators stood behind Gov. Chris Christie this afternoon as he signed a bill that expands the rights of crime victims.

Christie said he was dedicating the ceremony to the late Assembly Republican leader Alex DeCroce, an ardent advocate for crime victims, as his widow — Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce — looked on.

“It was a personal commitment to him and one that was born out of his sense of fairness, his really loving heart who cared for so much for others who had suffered great personal losses and always was there for them.”

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The bill gives crime victims and their families access to information in the prosecutor’s hands. It allows the families of murder victims to display their loved one’s picture during a court proceeding and gives their lawyers greater access to the process.

“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,” said Christie.

According to Richard Pompelio of the New Jersey Crime Victims Law Center, “victims never had direct standing to come into criminal court and assert their rights,” but now do.

Tomorrow, Mitt Romney is coming to New Jersey to a closed fundraiser in Lakewood without having any contact with the press or public. Christie was asked whether that was somehow disrespectful to the voters of New Jersey.

Citing Romney’s previous visits to the state in which he opened himself to the press and the public, Christie was candid about Romney’s purpose and his election prospects in the state.

“I don’t think Mitt Romney is counting our electoral votes in his columns. I think the overwhelming likelihood is President Obama will win in New Jersey. I think all the polls indicate that.”

Christie is headed to California tomorrow to raise money for Romney there, then to Washington state and Montana for Republican gubernatorial candidates. He was asked about a fresh round of rumors that he will soon be announced soon either as Romney’s VP choice or keynote speaker at the Republican convention.

Not surprisingly, he refused to comment, saying that that announcement should be left to the Romney camp.

Reporting from the Statehouse, Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron files this report.