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Grassley, Ossoff Introduce Justice for Murder Victims Act

Bipartisan proposal seeks to end ‘year-and-a-day’ rule

WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and committee member Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) introduced the Justice for Murder Victims Act. Their bipartisan proposal seeks to eliminate the 13th century “year-and-a-day” rule, which prohibits homicide prosecutions if the victim died more than a year-and-a-day from the date of the defendant’s assault.
“No victim should be denied justice simply because modern medicine helped them survive their attack for an arbitrary period of time. Our bill will fix this archaic rule and ensure murderers are brought to justice and families get the closure they deserve,” Grassley said.
“Murderers and violent criminals must be held accountable. Our bipartisan legislation will help secure justice for homicide victims and their families,” Ossoff said.
The bipartisan Justice for Murder Victims Act is supported by the Iowa County Attorneys Association, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National District Attorneys Association, National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys and Major County Sheriffs of America.
“The Iowa County Attorneys Association supports the elimination of the archaic ‘year and a day rule’ that currently stands in the way of justice for the families of homicide victims. It’s time to modernize this rule. We thank Senators Grassley and Ossoff for helping crime victims and their families receive the justice they deserve,” said Jessica A. Reynolds, Executive Director, Iowa County Attorneys Association.
“The MCCA is proud to endorse the Justice for Murder Victims Act. This legislation will update the federal code to remove an outdated provision that prohibits homicide prosecutions if the victim lives more than a year and a day from when they were attacked. This change will help increase accountability throughout the criminal justice system by helping ensure violent offenders can be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The MCCA thanks Sen. Grassley and Sen. Ossoff for introducing this bill,” said Eddie Garcia, Chief, Dallas Police Department, and President, Major Cities Chiefs Association.
“The timing of a victim’s death should not negatively impact their access to justice. After watching their loved ones fight to stay alive for over a year, families should not deal with a loss while learning that their loved one’s attacker will not be prosecuted. As modern science allows victims to keep fighting longer and longer, archaic rules that disincentive their fight for life should be abolished. The Justice for Murder Victims Act would ensure prosecutions are possible no matter when a victim passes. FLEOA firmly supports this bill and applauds Senator Grassley and Senator Ossoff for leading its introduction,” said Larry Cosme, National President, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

“NDAA is proud to support Senator Grassley and Senator Ossoff as they introduce the Justice for Murder Victims Act. This legislation updates an archaic rule that limits the ability of Federal prosecutors to hold offenders accountable and provide justice for victims and their families. We look forward to moving this bipartisan proposal through Congress at a time when violent crime is plaguing communities across the country,” said Nelson Bunn, Executive Director, National District Attorneys Association.
“The idea that a murderer can escape culpability if their victim takes more than a year to pass is archaic and unjust. Modern medicine provides numerous ways for victims to continue fighting for their life long after their attack. When a victim loses the fight more than a year out, their loved ones should not be denied justice as a result. Every state to reconsider the common law year and a day rule has come to the same conclusion and abolished it. We urge Congress to do the same by passing this bill into law. NAAUSA thanks Senator Grassley for leading this effort on behalf of murder victims,” said NAAUSA President Steve Wasserman.
Many states have already abolished the rule, recognizing that modern medicine has helped more victims live more than a “year-and-a-day” past their assault. Grassley and Ossoff’s bipartisan proposal would amend the rule so there is no maximum prosecutorial time period between the assault and death of the victim – ensuring murder victims are not denied justice in the federal system due to an outdated rule.
Text of the bill is available HERE.
Earlier this year, Grassley and Ossoff also introduced the Preventing Child Sex Abuse Act to improve justice for victims of child sex crimes.