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Supreme Court Rules On Corporation Commission's Handling Of Johnson Utilties

The Arizona Corporation Commission has the legal right to seize managerial control of utilities that pose a risk to public health and safety, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday.

In a 6-1 decision, the justices rejected claims by the owners of Johnson Utilities that there was no constitutional authority for the regulators to appoint an interim manager as it did two years ago.

Justice Andrew Gould, writing for the majority, said there is specific constitutional language allowing the agency to step in "to protect the health and safety of a public service corporation's customers, employees and the public at large.''

But Friday's ruling upholding the power of the commission does not end the legal fight. The justices said Johnson Utilities still has an opportunity to argue that the decision itself was not reasonable.

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