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New York Times
Letters to the Editor
June 12, 1997

 Respect Victims' Rights

 To the Editor:

Laurence H. Tribe cogently explains why it was appropriate for some victims and surviving relatives of the Oklahoma City bombing to testify during the penalty phase of the trial (Op-Ed, June 9). However, they testified as part of the Government's case, not based upon their own statutory right as victims.

Even after Congress enacted two statutes intended to permit victims to attend the trial and offer impact testimony, Judge Richard P. Matsch ruled he could still prevent some victims from testifying. This made victims choose between two equally important and equally valid rights.

Statutory rights are insufficient; a constitutional amendment is the only means to insure that victims are treated with the dignity, respect and rights provided by law.

Madison, Wis., June 9, 1997

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