Governor signs Jones bills to help ensure justice for rape victims

LANSING—Comprehensive measures sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to support victims of sexual assault were signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday.

“As a father and former sheriff, I know all too well about the devastation these crimes can bring,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “I want to thank Governor Snyder and the bipartisan team of lawmakers for their help in bringing some justice and relief to victims.”

Public Act 318 of 2014, sponsored by Jones, will create a commission consisting of high-level state officials and victim’s rights organization members who are experts in this matter and will place a high priority on the well-being of victims throughout the process. The commission will be tasked with establishing a system to track, audit and fund the submission of all released sexual assault evidence kits.

Jones’ other bill, PA 321, will, upon the victim’s request, require medical testing for venereal disease, hepatitis B and C, and HIV within 48 hours of indictment of an offender for criminal sexual conduct.

The governor on Tuesday also signed PAs 319 and 320, sponsored by Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Detroit. These laws will require law enforcement agencies to inform victims of the availability of sexual assault evidence kits and set timelines concerning the kits from the time a health care facility obtains consent to release an evidence kit to the time it must be analyzed.

House OKs Jones bills to help ensure justice for rape victims

LANSING—Comprehensive measures sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to support victims of sexual assault were approved on Thursday by the Michigan House of Representatives.

“After months of hard work, Michigan is taking a critical step toward ensuring justice for survivors of sexual assault throughout our state,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This effort came about after more than 11,000 rape kits were discovered – untested – in a Detroit warehouse. I was proud to join a bipartisan team of lawmakers to help prevent such a catastrophe from reoccurring in the future.

“As a father and former sheriff, I want to thank the House for quickly passing this legislation, and I look forward to seeing it signed by the governor. It’s about more than getting rape kits analyzed; it’s about standing up for and seeking justice on behalf of brave victims who come forward after an assault.”

Senate Bill 998, sponsored by Jones, would create a commission consisting of high-level state officials and victim’s rights organization members who are experts in this matter and will place a high priority on the wellbeing of victims throughout the process. The commission would be tasked with establishing a system to track, audit and fund the submission of all released sexual assault evidence kits.

Jones’ other bill, SB 1036, would, upon the victim’s request, require medical testing for venereal disease, hepatitis B and C, and HIV within 48 hours of indictment of an offender for criminal sexual conduct.

Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, and Rep. John Walsh, R-Livonia, sponsored bills to require law enforcement agencies to inform victims of the availability of sexual assault evidence kits and set timelines concerning the kits from the time a health care facility obtaining consent to release an evidence kit to the time it must be analyzed.

Walsh’s bill was signed by the governor in July and is now Public Act 227 of 2014. Johnson’s bills, SBs 1004 and 1021, were approved by the House on Thursday along with Jones’ bills. 

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Senate approves Jones bill to protect women in domestic violence situations

LANSING—Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation designed to protect women in domestic violence situations who are seeking a divorce was approved Wednesday by the Michigan Senate.

Jones’ bill addresses a practice commonly referred to as “trolling” for potential divorce clients.

“This is about preventing greedy attorneys from putting women in danger,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “When a woman is a victim of domestic violence and decides to file for divorce from her abusive husband, she should not have to worry about a trolling attorney tipping off her husband before she has time to protect herself and her children by taking actions like moving into a shelter house and getting a personal protection order.”

Senate Bill 981 would prohibit a lawyer from contacting a party of a divorce action with direct solicitation of legal services before the expiration of 14 days after the proof of service to the other party has been filed. A first violation would be a misdemeanor with up to a $1,000 fine. A second violation would be punishable by up to a year in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

“During my time as a sheriff, I unfortunately saw firsthand the impact of domestic violence on the lives of women and children,” Jones said. “These situations are filled with emotion, and the last thing that is needed is the insertion of a lawyer trolling for clients. The 14-day period will give abused women reasonable time to take care of important legal matters that will help ensure their safety.”

Jones noted that the Family Law Section of the Michigan State Bar supports the bill and has argued that the trolling practice is unsafe for women in domestic violence situations by allowing the other party to take measures prior to receiving court orders.

SB 981 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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