[JURIST] The UK government put forth a proposal [press release; PDF report] Thursday that would give relatives of homicide victims the opportunity to have their voices heard at murder and manslaughter trials. Much like the current system in the US, family members of a victim will be able to speak out directly or through a lawyer prior to the sentencing phase following a murder conviction. Constitutional Affairs Minister Harriet Harman [official profile] said the plan would allow relatives to make heartfelt statements directly to judges rather than through the current written reports taken from police interviews. Victims groups and some lawyers have given mixed responses to the plan that will cost millions to put into practice at a time when legal aid budgets are tight. The Guardian has more.