Georgia Trial Lawyers Association

Georgia Citizens’ Constitutional Right to Trial by Jury Under Assault Again in the General Assembly

Atlanta, GA – This morning, legislation was introduced in the Georgia State Senate that – if enacted – would unconstitutionally abolish Georgia citizens’ inviolate Right to Trial by Jury. Known as the “Patient Compensation Act,” Senate Bill 86[i] seeks to strip Georgia patients of their constitutionally-guaranteed ability to hold negligent healthcare providers accountable before a jury of fellow citizens, and instead would circumvent centuries of legal precedent by forcing injured patients’ cases into a bureaucratic system of healthcare providers who would sit in sole judgment over the conduct of their colleagues.

“Senate Bill 86 is an unconstitutional assault on some of Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens,” remarked GTLA President Linley Jones. “For well over two centuries, the Constitutional Right to Trial by Jury has given an opportunity for justice to every citizen of Georgia – including victims of medical malpractice who were harmed through no fault of their own – and to encroach on that right would be to erode the very foundation upon which our state was founded.”

For the past two years, the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, the Medical Association of Georgia, MagMutual Insurance Company, the Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia, former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers and many others have worked in unison to oppose the dangerous proposals set forth this bill.

“Replacing the time-tested civil jury system with a taxpayer-funded bureaucratic government agency would be an egregious infringement on Georgia citizens’ constitutional rights,” continued Jones, “and I strongly believe that Senate Bill 86 would be held unconstitutional if it were to come before the Georgia Supreme Court.

“Senate Bill 86 eliminates all current procedural safeguards, legitimate accountability mechanisms and meaningful appeals processes that are the cornerstones of the Civil Justice System, and I urge our lawmakers to reject this unconstitutional proposal outright,” concluded President Linley Jones.

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