Substitute Senate Bill No. 449
          Substitute Senate Bill No. 449

              PUBLIC ACT NO. 98-231


AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE OFFICE OF VICTIM ADVOCATE.


    Be it enacted  by  the  Senate  and  House  of
Representatives in General Assembly convened:
    Section 1. (NEW)  (a)  There is established an
Office of the  Victim Advocate. The Governor, with
the  approval  of   the  General  Assembly,  shall
appoint a person with knowledge of victim's rights
and services as Victim Advocate. Such person shall
be  an attorney  and  qualified  by  training  and
experience  to  perform   the   duties  of  Victim
Advocate as set  forth  in  section 2 of this act.
The appointment shall  be  made  from a list of at
least three persons  prepared and submitted by the
advisory committee established pursuant to section
5 of this act. Such list shall be confidential and
not open to  the  public or subject to disclosure.
Upon  any  vacancy   in  the  position  of  Victim
Advocate, the advisory  committee  shall  meet  to
consider and interview  successor  candidates  and
shall submit to  the  Governor  a  list of no less
than five and  no  more  than seven candidates not
later than sixty  days  after  said  vacancy. Such
list shall rank  the  candidates  in  the order of
committee preference. Upon  receipt of the list of
candidates  from  the   advisory   committee,  the
Governor  shall appoint  a  candidate  for  Victim
Advocate from among the choices within eight weeks
of receipt of  such  list. If, at any time, any of
the candidates withdraws  from consideration prior
to  confirmation  by  the  General  Assembly,  the
appointment  shall  be  made  from  the  remaining
candidates on the  list submitted to the Governor.
The person appointed  Victim  Advocate shall serve
for a term of four years and may be reappointed or
shall continue to  hold office until his successor
is appointed and qualified.
    (b) The Office of the Victim Advocate shall be
in  the  Freedom  of  Information  Commission  for
administrative purposes only.
    (c) Notwithstanding any other provision of the
general statutes, the  Victim  Advocate  shall act
independently  of  any  state  department  in  the
performance of his duties.
    (d) The Victim  Advocate may, within available
funds,  appoint  such   staff  as  may  be  deemed
necessary. The duties of the staff may include the
duties of the  Victim  Advocate if performed under
the direction of the Victim Advocate.
    (e)   The  General   Assembly   may   annually
appropriate such sums as necessary for the payment
of the salaries  of  the staff and for the payment
of  office  expenses  and  other  actual  expenses
incurred by the Victim Advocate in the performance
of his duties.
    (f) The Victim  Advocate shall annually submit
to  the  Governor   and  the  General  Assembly  a
detailed report analyzing  the  work of the Office
of the Victim Advocate.
    Sec. 2. (NEW)  The Victim Advocate may, within
available appropriations:
    (1)  Evaluate  the  delivery  of  services  to
victims by state  agencies and those entities that
provide services to victims;
    (2)  Coordinate  and   cooperate   with  other
private and public  agencies  concerned  with  the
implementation, monitoring and  enforcement of the
constitutional rights of  victims  and  enter into
cooperative  agreements  with  public  or  private
agencies for the furtherance of the constitutional
rights of victims;
    (3) Review the  procedures  established by any
state agency or other entity providing services to
victims with respect  to the constitutional rights
of victims;
    (4) Receive and  review  complaints of persons
concerning  the actions  of  any  state  or  other
entity   providing   services   to   victims   and
investigate those where  it  appears that a victim
or family of a victim may be in need of assistance
from the Victim Advocate;
    (5) File a  limited  special appearance in any
court proceeding for the purpose of advocating for
a victim:
    (A)  The  right   to   notification  of  court
proceedings;
    (B) The right  to  attend  the  trial  and all
other court proceedings  the accused has the right
to attend, unless  such  person  is to testify and
the court determines  that such person's testimony
would be materially  affected if such person hears
other testimony;
    (C) The right to object to or support any plea
agreement entered into  by  the  accused  and  the
prosecution and to  make  a statement to the court
prior to the  acceptance  by the court of the plea
of guilty or nolo contendere by the accused;
    (D) The right to make a statement to the court
at sentencing;
    (E) The right  to  restitution  which shall be
enforceable in the  same manner as any other cause
of action or as otherwise provided by law; and
    (F) The right to information about the arrest,
conviction, sentence, imprisonment  and release of
the accused;
    (6) Ensure a  centralized  location for victim
services information;
    (7)  Recommend  changes   in   state  policies
concerning  victims,  including   changes  in  the
system of providing victim services;
    (8)  Conduct  programs  of  public  education,
undertake legislative advocacy, and make proposals
for systemic reform;
    (9)  Take  appropriate  steps  to  advise  the
public of the services of the Office of the Victim
Advocate, the purpose of the office and procedures
to contact the office.
    Sec.  3.  (NEW)   (a)   Consistent   with  the
provisions of the  general statutes concerning the
confidentiality of records  and  information,  the
Victim Advocate shall  have  access  to, including
the  right  to   inspect  and  copy,  any  records
necessary to carry out the responsibilities of the
Victim Advocate as  provided  in section 2 of this
act to the  same  extent  as  a  victim would have
access to such  records. Nothing contained in this
subsection shall be  construed to waive a victim's
right  to  confidentiality   of  communication  or
records as protected  by  and  provisions  of  the
general statutes or common law.
    (b) In the performance of his responsibilities
under section 2  of  this act, the Victim Advocate
may  communicate  privately  with  any  victim  or
person who has  received,  is  receiving or should
have  received  services   from  the  state.  Such
communications shall be  confidential  and  not be
subject  to  disclosure   except  as  provided  in
subsection (a) of section 4 of this act.
    (c) The Victim  Advocate  may  apply  for  and
accept grants, gifts  and  bequests  of funds from
other states, federal  and interstate agencies and
independent   authorities   and   private   firms,
individuals and foundations,  for  the  purpose of
carrying out his responsibilities.
    Sec. 4. (NEW)  (a) The name, address and other
personally identifiable information  of  a  person
who makes a  complaint  to  the Victim Advocate as
provided in section 2 of this act, all information
obtained or generated  by the office in the course
of an investigation  and  all confidential records
obtained by the  Victim  Advocate  or his designee
shall be confidential  and shall not be subject to
disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act or
otherwise,  except  that   such   information  and
records,  other  than   confidential   information
concerning a pending law enforcement investigation
or a pending  prosecution, may be disclosed if the
Victim Advocate determines  that disclosure is (1)
in the general public interest or (2) necessary to
enable  the  Victim   Advocate   to   perform  his
responsibilities  under section  2  of  this  act,
provided in no  event  shall  the name, address or
other  personally identifiable  information  of  a
person be disclosed  without  the  consent of such
person.
    (b)  No  state   or   municipal  agency  shall
discharge,  or  in   any  manner  discriminate  or
retaliate against, any  employee who in good faith
makes  a  complaint  to  the  Victim  Advocate  or
cooperates with the  Office of the Victim Advocate
in an investigation.
    Sec. 5. (NEW)  (a)  There  is  established  an
advisory committee to  the  Office  of  the Victim
Advocate which shall  prepare  and  submit  to the
Governor in accordance  with section 1 of this act
a list of  candidates  for  appointment  as Victim
Advocate. The advisory  committee shall meet three
times a year  with  the  Victim  Advocate  and his
staff to review  and  assess  the  following:  (1)
Patterns of treatment and service for victims; (2)
policy implications of the findings of subdivision
(1) of this subsection; and (3) necessary systemic
improvements. The advisory  committee  shall  also
provide   for  an   annual   evaluation   of   the
effectiveness of said office.
    (b) Said advisory  committee shall consist of:
(1) One representative  of  Mothers  Against Drunk
Driving, appointed by  its board of directors; (2)
one  representative  of   Survivors  of  Homicide,
appointed  by its  board  of  directors;  (3)  one
representative  of Connecticut  Coalition  Against
Domestic  Violence,  appointed  by  its  board  of
directors; (4) one  representative  of Connecticut
Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc., appointed by
its  board of  directors;  (5)  one  member  of  a
victim's advocacy group,  appointed by the speaker
of the House of Representatives; (6) one member of
hospital emergency room  personnel,  appointed  by
the   majority   leader    of    the    House   of
Representatives; (7) one  therapist who deals with
victims  and trauma,  appointed  by  the  minority
leader of the  House  of  Representatives; (8) one
prosecutor, appointed by the president pro tempore
of  the Senate;  (9)  one  representative  of  law
enforcement, appointed by  the  majority leader of
the  Senate;  (10)  one  representative  from  the
educational  community  with   an   expertise   in
victimology, appointed by  the  minority leader of
the Senate; (11)  one  attorney,  appointed by the
Connecticut Bar Association; and (12) one judge of
the Superior Court, appointed by the Chief Justice
of the Supreme  Court. Each member of the advisory
committee shall serve a five-year term.
    Sec. 6. (NEW)  The  provisions  of subdivision
(5) of section  2  of  this act shall not apply to
infractions or misdemeanors not involving the use,
attempted use or  threatened use of physical force
against another person.

Approved June 8, 1998