LANSING, Mich., July 21 /PRNewswire/ — The American Justice Partnership (AJP), a national organization dedicated to promoting free enterprise and winning legal reform in the states, today announced Georgia State Senator Preston Smith had been chosen as its “Legal Reform Hero.” Senator Smith was chosen by thousands of voters in AJP’s “Heroes & Villains Contest,” an online contest to select the legal reform movement’s champion and to highlight the damage done to our nation’s civil justice system by trial-lawyer friendly politicians. Former Mississippi State Representative Jamie Franks received the dubious distinction of “Legal Reform Villain.”

Dan Pero, president of the AJP, lauded Senator Smith’s selection. “Senator Smith is a role model for legislators who aim to strengthen and expand their state’s economy. Given today’s tough economy and hostile regulatory environment, the last thing state business leaders need is an unpredictable legal climate,” said Pero. “With trial lawyers constantly seeking jackpot paydays at the courthouse, Senator Smith’s tireless advocacy for legal reform has helped level the playing field for tens of thousands of consumers, employees, and employers.”

Senator Smith’s efforts include sponsoring the Georgia Senate’s 2005 omnibus legal reform legislation, fighting for non-economic damage caps in malpractice cases, controls on venue shopping, joint and several liability reform, emergency room liability reform and reforms to enable physician apologies.

“For all the good that legal reform heroes like Senator Smith can accomplish, it only takes a few villains like Representative Franks to quickly undo it all,” said Pero.

Franks, a trial lawyer, served as a key lieutenant to Mississippi House Speaker Billy McCoy and engineered a Democrat takeover of the Mississippi House of Representatives. During that effort, Franks vowed that he would not roll back the state’s landmark tort reforms, even as he directed big-time PAC dollars to the campaign. But the Democrat majority did exactly that, voting to overturn the very legal reforms he promised were safe.

“Fool me once, shame on you,” said Pero. “I am proud that legal reform supporters in our contest weren’t going to let Franks fool them again. Unfortunately, the damage he is doing to Mississippi’s economy is no game. Without new reforms, higher insurance premiums, frivolous lawsuits, and threats to entrepreneurs and small business will be all too common in the Magnolia State.”

Voters in AJP’s “Legal Reform Heroes & Villains Contest” selected from among five “hero” candidates and five “villain” candidates. Nearly 30,000 votes were cast in the 6-month contest. The full results and profiles of all candidates can be found at

The American Justice Partnership works to promote free enterprise and improve the fairness and predictability of the legal environment at the state level. Headquartered in Lansing, Michigan, AJP partners with more than 60 state and national organizations in its work around the country. For more information visit AJP’s website:

SOURCE American Justice Partnership