The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure constitute the "playbook" for the federal criminal justice system. But crime victims have been largely absent from the rules, even though they have an expanding number of rights in the process.
In this paper, which recently appeared in the Utah Law Review, I argue that it is time to fold crime victims into the federal rules. I develop a rule-by-rule analysis of changes that should be made, including: 1. Ensuring that crime victims' attorneys can appear in court (Rule 1); 2. Providing for victim participation in the plea bargain process (Rule 11); 3. Protecting victims' addresses and telephone numbers from improper disclosure (Rule 12); 4. Guaranteeing victims the right to attend criminal depositions (Rule 15); 5. Protecting victims from having personal and confidential information improperly subpoenaed (Rule 17); 6. Considering victims' interests when cases are transferred or when a bench trial is ordered (Rules 21 and 23); 7. Integrating victims into the sentencing process (Rule 32); 8. Articulating victims' right to discretionary appointment of counsel (Rule 44.1); 9. Giving victims the right to be heard at bail decisions (Rule 46); 10. Requiring victims' views be considered before a case is dismissed (Rule 48); 11. Protecting victims' right to a speedy trial (Rule 50); 12. Giving victims notice of court proceedings and of their rights in those proceedings (Rule 60(a)(1)); 13. Guaranteeing victims the right to attend court proceedings (Rule 60(a)(2)); 14. Guaranteeing victims the right to be heard on bail, plea, sentencing, and other issues important to victims (Rule 60(a)(3)).
I hope that the advisory committee that handles rule changes will seriously consider some of these proposals and move forward to make sure that crime victims' rights are protected in the federal criminal justice system.