NASHVILLE - Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, who unsuccessfully ran for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, has joined the Tennessee trial lawyers' lobbying team at the state Capitol, the Tennessee Association for Justice announced today.
In a news release, the group said the Republican Thompson, a one-time federal lobbyist and actor, will "assist TAJ in their efforts to ensure that Tennesseans maintain a full measure of justice in Tennessee courts."
It was unclear whether Thompson is being paid for his lobbying work.
"We are sworn to protect the Constitution and ensure citizens' rights are protected from unreasonable government intrusion," said TAJ President Phillip Miller. "Senator Thompson understands the importance of this issue and worked as an advocate throughout his career to protect civil justice."
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, business interests, doctors, nursing homes and hospitals, as well as the Republican-dominated General Assembly, are pushing for tort reform this year and will seek to cap jury awards for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering in lawsuits.
In their news release, the trial lawyers didn't specifically mention tort reform but said Thompson, an attorney, "identifies with the citizens of this state and relates to their concerns and needs. He will play an integral part in guaranteeing that their rights are protected."
The group's former president, Randy Kinnard, said "we put our trust in Tennesseans at the ballot box, and we should continue to trust them in the jury box. It is our hope Senator Thompson will help us convey this message so our citizens can continue to exercise their right to trial by jury."
Efforts to contact TAJ spokeswoman Jill Hudson were unsuccessful.