Sen. Missy Irvin has filed SJR8, a constitutional amendment that takes away our constitutional right to a jury trial. Call your state senator today and tell them to vote NO on SJR8! SJR8 is extremely dangerous for Arkansans because it:
- Takes away our right to fight back in court
- Takes away our right to hire the legal representation we need to protect ourselves from corporate interests and insurance companies
- Puts an arbitrary, one-size-fits-all value on life
- Prevents juries from holding harmful entities accountable for causing harm
- Gives lobbyists and politicians control of our courts
Call and email your state senator TODAY. Not sure who your senator is? Click this link: http://www.arkansas.gov/senate/senatorSearch.html
And, here is a link to the bill:
Here are a few things to consider when calling your senator:
Before you introduce yourself, consider your audience and try to tailor the conversation to the individual.
Introduce yourself and ask if it’s a good time to talk about an issue that’s important to you.
Ask if they are familiar with SJR8, the tort reform amendment.
You might tell them you are happy that they are not listed as a sponsor on the bill. Then ask if they have taken a position on SJR8 or not. If they haven’t taken a position, start a conversation with them about the points listed below. If they are with us, thank them and encourage them to reach out and call you for help at any time. If aren’t with us, ask if they had considered some of the information listed below. Thank them for their time and offer to be of help in the future.
Now that you’re ready to talk with your senator, arm yourself with the talking points below.
1. SJR8 is a proposed constitutional amendment that takes away our 7th Amendment constitutional right to a jury trial. SJR8 is extremely dangerous for Arkansans because: SJR8 places an arbitrary, one-size-fits-all value on life.
a. This amendment is an attack on the value of human life, and holds that one life is worth more than another. An infant would not hold the same “economic” value as an adult, working man or woman.
b. The amendment encourages careless behavior by limiting “non-economic damages” that pay people back for very real harms caused by carelessness. Many very valuable members of our society have only “non-economic” harms they can suffer, like children and infants, unborn babies, the elderly, and stay at home moms.
2. SJR8 handcuffs local juries, leaving them unable to hold wrongdoers accountable for causing harm by limiting punitive damage awards.
a. Setting a pre-determined amount a jury may award negates the sacred function and duty of a local jury, who our Founders wanted to hear the facts of each individual case.
b. When a person is hurt or killed because someone else is careless, the careless person is required to pay money to the injured person to make up for the harm he or she caused – it is our system of accountability. Without punitive damage awards, harmful entities will only receive what amounts to a slap on the wrist for causing harm like continuing to make faulty GM ignitions and exploding Ford Pintos. SJR8 destroys the system of checks and balances that our Founding Fathers established.
3. The separation of powers safeguards our freedoms by preventing systematic abuse, and is a tenet of our democracy. SJR8 takes away our right to hire the legal representation we need to protect ourselves from corporate interests and insurance companies.
a. This bill limits contingency fees for plaintiff’s attorneys. This is a red herring thrown in to help pave the way to limiting an injured person’s recoveries.
b. Capping plaintiff’s attorney fees will make legal representation out of reach for many plaintiffs. Note that there is no proposed cap on defense attorney fees. How would a plaintiff have a level playing field against a corporation?
c. Contingency fees allow someone who might not be able to afford legal representation the ability to fight back and have their day in court. Fighting back against insurance companies and corporations takes significant time and money, not to mention the plaintiff’s attorney’s upfront investment that pays the cost of the case until a jury gives a verdict or a settlement is reached.
If you aren’t sure which senator is yours, please click here and enter your address: http://www.arkansas.gov/senate/senatorSearch.html
Our senators’ contact information is listed below:
Senator Bart Hester (District 1)
Senator Jim Hendren (District 2)
Senator Cecile Bledsoe (District 3)
Senator Uvalde Lindsey (District 4)
Senator Bryan King (District 5)
Senator Gary Stubblefield (District 6)
Senator Lance Eads (District 7)
Senator Jake Files (District 8)
Senator Terry Rice (District 9)
Senator Larry Teague (District 10)
Senator Jimmy Hickey, Jr (District 11)
Senator Bruce Maloch (District 12)
Senator Alan Clark (District 13)
Senator Bill Sample (District 14)
Senator David J. Sanders (District 15)
Senator Greg Standridge (District 16)
Senator Scott Flippo (District 17)
Senator Missy Irvin (District 18)
Senator Linda Collins-Smith (District 19)
Senator Blake Johnson (District 20)
Senator John Cooper (District 21)
Senator David Wallace (District 22)
Senator Ronald Caldwell (District 23)
Senator Keith Ingram (District 24)
Senator Stephanie Flowers (District 25)
Senator Eddie Cheatham (District 26)
Senator Trent Garner (District 27)
Senator Jonathan Dismang (District 28)
Senator Eddie Joe Williams (District 29)
Senator Linda Chesterfield (District 30)
Senator Joyce Elliott (District 31)
Senator Will Bond (District 32)
Senator Jeremy Hutchinson (District 33)
Senator Jane English (District 34)
Senator Jason Rapert (District 35)