Fred Thompson, former U.S. Senator from Tennessee, opposes changes to the civil justice system in Tennessee sought by tort reform advocates. His reasoning?
As someone who practiced in the courts of Tennessee for almost 30 years, I believe that a Tennessee jury of average citizens, after hearing all the facts, under the guidance of an impartial judge and limited by the constraints of our appellate courts, is more likely to render justice in a particular case than would one-size-fits-all rules imposed by government, either state or federal.
The civil justice system has checks and balances designed to ensure that each party entering the system receives fair treatment. Each side gets a lawyer to passionately advocate for its position. A judge mediates the case so that the parties have access to evidence they need to present their case. The judge also decides whether a party's claim has enough merit to try before a jury.
After months or years of legal process, the claims of a lawsuit are narrowed down enough to try to a jury. A jury views evidence that is carefully vetted for authenticity, reliability, and relevance. The jury passes judgment on the credibility of evidence and testimony of the witnesses. Only then does the jury decide how wins and how much should be awarded.
The beauty of our civil justice system is that it permits a jury of our peers to decide disputes between citizens based upon the individual facts of each case. Tort reform seeks to change that fundamental right, and even conservatives like Fred Thompson recognize that tort reform is a bad idea for justice.