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The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence in conjunction with the family of Lizzi Marriott who was viciously raped and murdered in 2012, held a press conference on Tuesday in response to a recent New Hampshire Supreme Court order. The decision which involves the appeal of Lizzi’s killer, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2014, not only re-traumatized the Marriott family, it jeopardizes the privacy rights of all victims.
On June 10, the NH Supreme Court issued an order that seriously undermines the state’s Rape Shield Law through an administrative rule change. Rape Shield Laws protect sexual assault victims by insuring that the victim’s sexual past is not admitted in court. The Supreme Court actions would have led to the release of personal, sensitive documents that were sealed by the trial court. Absent protections provided by the Rape Shield Law, irrelevant and damaging information about victims becomes public and victims are denied critical protections in the criminal justice process.
Ultimately through the prompt action of the Attorney General's Office which requested a stay and a full briefing on the ruling, a stay on the order was provided by the Supreme Court. This provides the family some immediate relief and time and a forum for a more thoughtful discussion.
We grateful to everyone who spoke out against this potentially devastating action, especially Lizzi's family, who once again had to publicly relive their anguish and grief. "Learning about the NH Supreme Court decision on what would have been Lizzi’s 23rd birthday was like having my heart ripped apart again and was yet another devastating blow." said Lizzi's father. Melissa Marriott, Lizzi's mother said, "The decision by NH Supreme Court, to share the sealed and protected documents about Lizzi’s personal life has given me no choice but to speak out...I am still outraged that we have to go through this and you should be too."
Disturbed by the Court's decision, Governor Hassan and all members of New Hampshire's federal delegation made strong statements against the order.
Lizzi’s mother Melissa made a plea to the media for continued privacy. “While we are cautiously optimistic that the NH Supreme Court may choose to see the greater impact and decide to protect rights of victims we can no longer put our trust in the system to do that. Please be respectful if these documents are released and don’t report the details...You have the opportunity to keep Lizzi’s private life private, please choose to take that opportunity.”
The Coalition will continue to stand with the family in this case and we appreciate all of your support in moving forward to continue to protect victims’ rights.
For media requests or questions please contact Amanda Grady Sexton.
Related Statements and Documents:
NH Supreme court order to reconsider June 10 order
Statement from NHCADSV
Remarks from Attorney Representing Lizzi Marriott's Family
Statements from the Parents of Lizzi Marriott
State of New Hampshire Motion to Grant Stay and Full Briefing
State of NH Supreme Court Order in Case of State v. Seth Mazzaglia
New Hampshire's Rape Shield Law
New Hampshire Victim Bill of Rights
Read the full statements condemning the Court's actions from Governor Hassan, U.S. Senator Shaheen, U.S. Senator Ayotte, Congresswoman Kuster and Congressman Guinta. (Infographic)
Related media coverage:
Concord Monitor: N.H. Supreme Court ruling on rape shield law condemned by victim’s family, advocates
Associated Press: Family of slain woman fights to keep court records sealed
Union Leader: Family tries to block release of murder victim Lizzi Marriott's records
Fox News: NH court decision to unseal documents upsets parents of rape, murder victim
NHPR: Victim's Family, Prosecutors Want N.H Supreme Court to Reconsider Ruling
WCVB TV 5 Family of slain woman fights to keep court records sealed
WMUR News 9: Family of slain woman fights to keep records sealed
Union Leader, 7-26-16, NH's Lizzi Marriott case could set precedent for victims' rights
The Lizzi Marriott Intrepid Ocean Explorer Scholarship has been started in Lizzi’s honor. If you’d like to make a donation in her honor you can visit http://rememberlizzi.org/scholarship.html