Georgia governor taps seasoned lawyer for Obamacare challenge

Kathy Woods Apr. 19, 2010, 6:00pm

Frank Jones

ATLANTA, Ga. (Legal Newsline)-The trial attorney hired by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to represent the state in a lawsuit challenging the national health care law has had an expansive legal career.

Frank Jones, 84, was appointed last week as a special attorney general by the Republican governor after Attorney General Thurbert Baker, a Democrat, refused to join a multistate constitutional challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed by President Barack Obama last month.

The law will expand insurance coverage to more than 32 million Americans, marking the most significant expansion of medical care since Congress created Medicare in 1965 for the nation's elderly and disabled.

The landmark statute requires, among other things, that most Americans to have medical coverage beginning in 2014 or face financial penalties, and will require that businesses with more than 50 workers provide employees health coverage or pay a $2,000-a-worker penalty if any of their employees get government-subsidized plans on their own.

Jones, of counsel at Jones, Cork & Miller in Macon, Ga., will lead a team of eight lawyers representing the Peach State in the lawsuit filed last month in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The multistate lawsuit is led by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican.

In a statement announcing the appointment, Perdue said Jones is the person to represent the state.

"The importance of this legal challenge demands the very best representation possible and that is exactly what the state is receiving from Frank C. Jones," the governor said. "Frank is one of the best and most respected lawyers in the state. We are grateful he recognizes the importance of this challenge and is taking up the cause on behalf of Georgians."

Jones said he agreed to lead the governor's team challenging the law on two conditions: that he would be working with other lawyers and that the case would be handled pro-bono, at no charge to anyone.

"I feel like what I'm doing is for the public," he was quoted Monday by the Macon Telegraph as saying.

Jones's legal career spans more than six decades, the newspaper noted.

While most of his career has been in private civil practice, he was in the public sector for 10 years during desegregation, when he represented the Bibb County School Board.

Over the years, he has represented corporate clients such as Coca-Cola Co. in lawsuits, and has argued cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jones practiced at Jones, Cork & Miller from 1950 to 1977. After moving in 1977 to Atlanta, he was a Partner at King & Spalding until 2001.

He went into semiretirement in 2001 but still has an office in what is now known as the Jones, Cork and Miller firm, which was co-founded by his great-grandfather.

Jones has served as president of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the Georgia Bar Association and the U.S Supreme Court Historical Society. He serves as trustee emeritus of Emory University and as a trustee of Wesleyan College in Macon.

Raised in Macon, Jones attended Emory University and graduated from Mercer University's School of Law in 1950.

The states involved in the health care lawsuit are Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington, Idaho, South Dakota, Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada and Arizona.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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