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Conference shines spotlight on crime victims rights

Lewis and Clark College is co-sponsoring the 10th annual national conference devoted to crime victims' issues this week at the Benson Hotel.

The National Crime Victim Law Institute conference, Tuesday, June 14, and Wednesday, June 15, focuses on 10 years of victims' rights laws and their impact on the legal system. Keynote speakers include Susan Levy, the mother of Chandra Levy, the House aide in Washington, D.C., whose murder drew national attention. Levy will talk about her own experience in the judicial system and why victims' rights are critical.

The institute's conference theme, '10 Years of Rights Enforcement: Creating the Future of Crime Victim Law,' brings together prosecutors, legal experts and advocates from across the country. The institute is based at Lewis and Clark Law School and focuses on victims' rights legal advocacy, education and resource sharing.

More than 175 people from 20 states and the District of Columbia will look at legal trends in crime victims' rights and specific issues such as sexual assault, identity theft, and the impact of the Internet and technology on victim rights.

'After a lot of litigating and educating, courts are finally recognizing that victims' rights make victims legal participants in the system, participants who can independently speak in court to ask for their rights and independently seek remedies if someone violates their rights,' said Meg Garvin, the institute's executive director and a clinical law professor at Lewis and Clark Law School.

Oregon has had victims' rights laws for several years. Additional legislation was passed in 2008 expanding on some of those rights.