Monday, June 27, 2011

From The House

Constituent service call numbers are soaring along with the temperature. We were back up last week in the 370 range, not too surprising considering we were finishing up the budget. The extended session continues as the summer rolls on. My duty is in Columbia, but the May River is calling me.

I mentioned last week that the Beaufort County delegation had pushed through the candidacy of a worthy Jasper County resident for the Family Court judgeship. We had a number of calls wanting to know why we were supporting a candidate from a neighboring county rather than “one of our own” for this prestigious position. A good question that deserves a serious, straightforward answer.

The first part of the answer has to do with the candidate, now the judge. She is Deborah Malphrus, from Ridgeland. Most of the delegation members knew Deborah as a very talented and successful lawyer with a thriving practice. She also has been on the board of the Palmetto Electric Coop for many years, serving as chairman for a number of those years. In fact, the more we got to know the prospective judge, the more convinced we became that she would bring great skill and presence to the bench. This is not to say that there were not other very qualified candidates; there were several who would have certainly been given positive consideration had they not had the misfortune to come up at the same time as Deborah Malphrus.

As far as being “one of our own”, Deborah graduated from USC Law School and has been a fixture of the Lowcountry legal scene for many years. Early on, she clerked for the late Circuit Judge Carol Conner, later to become Appeals Court Justice Connor. Her father was the legendary Ridgeland lawyer Joseph N. Malphrus. Her brother is recently retired Jasper County Probate Judge Joseph N. Malphrus Jr. The tradition of public service in her family is strong, especially considering that at least one of her three children is looking to begin law school in the very near future.

As to why her candidacy was not forwarded by the Jasper delegation, the answer is that their delegation is currently small and composed of Democrats. In my view, the interests of securing a judge of Deborah Malphrus’s quality and character overwhelmingly trumped any partisan considerations.

While our work with Judge Malphrus began before the outlines of the new house districts began to take shape, her election certainly gets our work on the new Beaufort/Jasper delegation off on the right foot. I have every confidence that Judge Malphrus’s time on the Family Court bench will be characterized by prudence, competence and appropriate compassion.

Bluffton is fortunate to have two members on the SC Blue Ribbon Committee on Shoreline Management. They are your representative and committee chairman Wes Jones. We met two weeks ago in Columbia at the DNR Board Room and discussed agenda items generally related to the DHEC policy of beachfront retreat. Our goal is to develop specific regulatory recommendations relating to the findings of the DHEC Shoreline Change Advisory Committee. Essentially, we are trying to find that middle ground between the public good and private property rights relating to areas where the water meets the land. This is a process, which will be ongoing, and I will report to you from time to time on our accomplishments as well as frustrations.