Fourth District judges have named Utah County Attorney Steven Killpack chairman of the local victim's rights committee, which comprises representatives from Utah, Wasatch, Juab and Millard counties.

Killpack replaces J. Robert Bullock, who served as committee chairman since the committee's inception in January 1987. Other committee members include attorneys from the four counties, court officials and law officers.Victim's rights committees have been organized statewide to ensure that victims of crime and witnesses in criminal cases are treated with dignity and respect, Killpack said. In addition, the committees are charged with ensuring that child victims and child witnesses of crime are treated with special consideration.

"Crime victims and witnesses in criminal cases need and deserve representation in the criminal justice system," he said. "The trauma suffered by crime victims is often intensified during the investigation and prosecution of the criminal."

Killpack said the U.S. judicial system historically has lacked adequate safeguards for victims and witnesses.

"Our society invests great resources in protecting the rights of criminal defendants while sometimes overlooking the needs of crime victims and witnesses," he said. "The Victim's Bill of Rights in Utah (enacted last year by the Legislature) mandates affirmative programs to protect the rights of these individuals."

Unfortunately, Killpack added, the Legislature didn't appropriate funds to implement the program.

"Nevertheless, county attorney offices, police and other local law enforcement personnel recognize the importance of these rights and have established victim-advocate programs within the confines of their existing budgets and staff."

During 1989, the committee will hold quarterly meetings in the county attorney's office on the second Friday in January, April, July and October. Victims and witnesses involved in criminal cases may submit questions or concerns by contacting the attorney's office prior to any of the meetings.