Criminal Justice

Prosecutor removed from office over domestic case will go into private practice

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A West Virginia prosecutor who faces misdemeanor charges over alleged domestic incidents involving his ex-wife and 11-year-old son has opted not to appeal a judicial panel’s determination that he should be removed from office.

“My family and I have been attacked for almost a year. I love being a prosecutor, but refuse to allow my family to be subjected to this any longer,” said Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants in a press release provided to the West Virginia Record.

Plants said he is looking forward to going into private practice on his own, where he “can fight for the rights of others who have been treated unjustly.”

A three-judge panel drawn from outside the county determined last month that Plants should be removed for malfeasance and neglect of duty in response to a petition by the county commission. However, the panel suspended enforcement of the order for 30 days. A Charleston Gazette story provides details and includes a copy of the 44-page circuit court order (PDF).

Plants was charged with domestic battery after allegedly hitting his 11-year-old son with a belt and bruising him earlier this year. He is also charged with violating a domestic violence protective order banning him from contact with his ex-wife and the couple’s two sons.

Although Plants has not been convicted of any crime, county commissioners said the charges he faces put the county in an untenable position.

Plants’ removal by a circuit judge from prosecuting domestic violence charges while his own case is pending required the county to find someone else to fill in for its top prosecutor on such cases. The county is paying a retired senior Kanawha prosecutor $200 an hour to substitute for Plants, with the help of assistant county prosecutors. And commissioners say that bill is rapidly adding up, the Charleston Gazette reports.

Plants has been attending a 32-week intervention program for batterers. Once he completes it, the charges against him may be dropped, according to a special prosecutor.

Related coverage: “Prosecutor agrees he won’t use corporal punishment to discipline kids in deal to get charges dropped”

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