Kanawha County commissioners: prosecutor's disqualification from - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Kanawha County commissioners: prosecutor's disqualification from certain cases has cost taxpayers $100,000, file petition to remove him him from office

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Kanawha County commissioners want Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants removed from office, saying his inability to handle cases involving domestic violence against children while his own case is being processed has already cost taxpayers $100,000.

A petition for Plants' removal, filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court, accuses Plants of misconduct, malfeasance, neglect of duties and violating a court order as well as the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Chief Justice Robin Davis has assigned Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Lawrence S. Miller Jr, 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes and Third Judicial Circuit Judge Timothy L. Sweeney to hear oral arguments at 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 22. Sweeney is a Democrat. Wilkes and Miller, like Plant, are Republicans.

Plant was arrested in March on a domestic battery charge stemming from a complaint filed by his ex-wife, Allison, that he'd spanked their 11-year-old son with a leather belt, leaving a large bruise on the boy's leg. He also is accused of violating a protection order she'd obtained.

Two weeks after his arrest, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel petitioned the Supreme Court to disqualify Plants from involvement in domestic violence cases involving children. Three days later the City of Charleston followed suit, petitioning Kanawha County Circuit Court for a writ prohibiting Plants from prosecuting cases involving domestic violence involving children. Plants subsequently agreed to the disqualification, and the high court determined that his decision “temporarily resolved any potential conflict of interest” and it wasn't necessary to suspend Plant's license “at that time.”

The removal petition complains Plants “repeatedly engaged in wrongful conduct that betrays the higher standard” to which those holding public office must be held. It attributes the neglect of duty charge against Plant to him agreeing “to an indefinite disqualification that precludes him from performing indispensable and statutorily required duties of an elected prosecutor.”

“Mr. Plants's disqualification has, as of the date of this petition, cost Kanawha County in excess of $100,000,” the complaint stated. “The Kanawha County Commission has determined that such ongoing and irreparable financial harm to the taxpayers of Kanawha County must not be allowed to continue.”

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