Victim's Right to Refuse An Interview In Arizona

In Champlin v. Sargeant, 192 Ariz. 371, 965 P.2d 763 (1998), the Arizona Supreme Court addressed whether the Victims' Bill of Rights and 13-4433(A) permitted a trial court to compel the interview of the victims of various sex offenses concerning events those victims witnessed relevant to other charges against the defendant. 192 Ariz. 371,7-23, 965 P.2d at 764-67. At that time, 13-4433(A) stated "the victim shall not be compelled to submit to an interview on any matter, including a charged criminal offense witnessed by the victim that occurred on the same occasion as the offense against the victim, that is conducted by the defendant, the defendant's attorney or an agent of the defendant." 1997 Ariz. Sess. Laws, ch. 126, 12. As a matter of statutory interpretation, the court in Champlin concluded the "same occasion" clause necessarily modified the phrase "on any matter," thereby allowing the interview of eyewitness victims, so long as the eyewitness was not also a victim of an offense committed on the same occasion. 192 Ariz. 371,15-16, 18, 965 P.2d at 766-67. The Arizona Supreme Court observed that nothing in the VBR gives victims "a blanket right to be shielded from all contact with defendants or their attorneys." The court relied on the language of A.R.S. 13-4433(A) to hold that "those who are not victims but merely witnesses of particular criminal behavior, though perhaps victims of other behavior by the same defendant on separate occasions, may be interviewed as to the former but not the latter." Id.18. Significantly, the year after Champlin was decided, the legislature amended 13-4433(A) to allow victims like the one in Champlin to refuse an interview. 1999 Ariz. Sess. Laws, ch. 261, 45. To the extent Champlin is still good law, its limited holding is that a victim does not have the right to refuse a deposition or interview on a subject unrelated to the offense against the victim.