The Kanawha County commission is researching "successful removal cases" in West Virginia. Commissioners are looking at options to remove the current prosecuting attorney from office. Mark Plants has been charged with domestic battery and violating a domestic violence protective order. He's barred from hearing certain court cases as long as the cases against him are pending.
Plants and a special prosecutor struck a deal, a pretrial diversion, in May, but it may have to dropped or changed. It does not require Plants to take part in a community corrections program, something that's required by West Virginia law for people facing domestic violence charges. The West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence issued a statement Tuesday regarding the situation. It stated in part, "While pretrial diversion may play a role in the criminal justice system for some crimes, when applied to domestic violence related crimes this practice violates state code, jeopardizes victim safety, and has the potential to release domestic violence perpetrators from accountability for the crimes they have committed against their family/household members."
During Tuesday's special meeting, Kanawha County commissioner Dave Hardy asked for Plants to resign. "It is my opinion that the best thing the prosecutes office can do for this county is to remove himself from office," said Hardy. Elected officials can sign a petition to have a three-judge panel decide whether to remove Plants from office. "This commission does have the authority to enforce section 11. We have absolute authority over the police in this county," said Kanawha County commissioner Kent Carper.
Commissioner Hardy said that if the matter isn't resolved by next Friday, the Kanawha County commission will call another special meeting. Meanwhile, commissioners also reviewed the first bill from the special prosecutor who's been assigned to handle the cases Mark Plants is barred from dealing with during his pending litigation. The first bill was approximately $33,650. Don Morris told commissioners he's spending 8-9 hours a day in the prosecutor's office. "I bill part time for a full time job," said Morris. Commissioners said they wanted to review the bill so they could have a better idea of what to expect moving forward. At this rate they said it looks like it should be about $30,000 a month.