The Public Service Commission tried to make it easier for those suffering from domestic violence to obtain utilities. However, good ole boy attorney Jim Herring tried to stop the PSC from doing as his message to battered women and children was simply tough luck. Yup, wife-beaters found a friend in Jim Herring and his client. The Clarion-Ledger reported:
Attorneys from the Mississippi Rural Water Association and the Public Service Commission argued in front of the Mississippi Supreme Court Monday over the PSC's Domestic Violence Rule as it relates to utility deposits.
James Herring, attorney for the rural water association, argued that the PSC exceeded its "statutory authority” when it unanimously approved the Domestic Violence Rule in 2014.
Championed by Commissioner Brandon Presley, the Domestic Violence Rule allows certified victims of domestic violence to waive their utility deposit for the first 60 days in their billing cycle. The deposit is due at the end of the 60 days.
Herring said by waiving the deposit for 60 days, the commission violated Section 77-3-5 which says, in part, the commission “shall not have jurisdiction over the governance, maintenance or internal affirms nor authority over rate-making powers.”
Herring argued that by delaying the deposit, the commission, in effect, was setting the rate.
He then referred to the Domestic Violence Rule as a “public relations move that didn’t really have much of an impact.”...
Frank Farmer, attorney with the Mississippi Attorney General’s office, disagreed. Addressing the justices, Farmer said, “A deposit is simply not a rate."
Farmer further argued that the deposit did not belong to the utility company, saying it is "money owed back to the depositor."... Article
Speaking of various water associations, Farmer said, "They can still enforce any deposit mechanism they choose. The only thing the rule does is give somebody additional time to pay it."...Not much of an impact? You know what an impact is, Mr. Herring? A fist thrown at full force against a woman's face. Repeatedly banging a child's head off of the wall. Running over a wife with a car. A mallet bouncing off of a head. Those are impacts. Of course it might be unreasonable for dinosaurs from the Mississippi Delta to understand anything about domestic violence.
Think JJ is being too harsh? The Heather Spencer police report is posted below. Read it. Suppose a woman is in a similar situation. Her husband or boyfriend splits her head open with a hammer. She escapes to a battered women's shelter. Her husband has probably cut off all support. She saves some money so she can live on her own and stand on her own two feet. A few hundred dollars for utility deposits is probably a large sum of money to her at this point- even more so if she has kids and they are cut off from the wife-beater. She finds a place to live that she can afford but can't move in because she doesn't have the money to pay the utility deposits.
The Public Service Commission is helping this woman but Jim Herring and his clients are not interested in helping battered women or beaten children. Shylock has to have his pound of flesh. Mr. Herring gives the game away when he says the rule has not had much of an impact. If it hasn't had much of an impact, then it is not really affecting his clients, is it? Making it tougher to leave a wife-beater might not be the goal but it sure is the result of what Mr. Herring and his client want to do.
This case shows what is wrong with Mississippi and why it is all too often a laughingstock.