Investigate claims if there is evidence

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 5, 2002

A Fayette florist who told a CBS News crew that juries in Jefferson County might be paid &uot;under the table&uot; for big verdicts now says he was just joking.

Well, that’s nice, but the damage has been done.

It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility to believe such payments could have occurred, but there isn’t any evidence so far. The district attorney for the area says he will prosecute if there’s any evidence, but no investigation is under way yet.

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The comments by florist Beau Strittman &045; who refused to allow CBS News’ &uot;60 Minutes&uot; to use his name &045; didn’t exactly inflame the already hot topic of tort reform.

The comments gave trial lawyers something else on which to hang their distaste for tort reform.

Perhaps the worst Strittman’s comments did was add to Mississippi’s poor image &045; and the issue itself did enough damage as far as that’s concerned, not the airing of the story.

We’ve finally passed tort reform.

For the moment that means trial lawyers will try any way to get around it &045; from calling for an investigation into Strittman’s flippant comments to running TV ads that urge residents to file major claims before the law goes into effect.

If there is evidence of jury tampering in Jefferson County, by all means the district attorney should investigate.

If it’s just the off-camera musings of a man already made rich from a settlement over diet drugs, let’s move on and make sure the tort reform in place works for Mississippi.

We still have a long road ahead.