CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Those with the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel are calling for the suspension of Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants or his disqualification, along with the disqualification of the people who work in his office, from domestic violence cases involving kids.

The calls were part of a filing with the state Supreme Court on Friday.

In it, the group that oversees the conduct of lawyers said Plants had violated the West Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct.

Earlier in the day on Friday, Plants was back in court to deal with several issues involving a domestic violence protective order filed against him back in February following a complaint alleging he ”excessively disciplined” his son, aged 11.

He’s been charged with domestic battery for allegedly striking the boy with a leather belt more than ten times, leaving a long bruise.  Plants’ attorney, Jim Cagle, has asked that the misdemeanor charge be dismissed by arguing, as a parent, Plants was “acting within a constitutionally protected right to control his child” at the time.

However, the filing from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel calls that a conflict in cases involving parents being prosecuted for allegedly abusing their kids.  “Such representation may be materially limited by his own defense that such alleged criminal conduct is not a violation of the law,” the filing said.

“Under West Virginia law, there is no liability for the reasonable use of corporal punishment (by a parent) for disciplinary purposes,” Cagle wrote in his motion to dismiss.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper issued a statement on the ODC decision Friday evening:

“I have stringently adhered to requests by the officials conducting the various investigations regarding Prosecutor Mark Plants, to keep all matters involving the investigation confidential in order to allow them to carry out their responsibilities.  In light of the clear and most serious findings and recommendations issued by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel to the Supreme Court, released late this afternoon and in order to protect the integrity of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and its ability to properly prosecute future cases, I feel this matter must come to an immediate resolution.  The Kanawha County Commission will take such actions as necessary when it is appropriate to do so.”

Mercer County Magistrate Mike Flanigan was appointed to hear the case because of possible conflicts with all of Kanawha County’s magistrates.

“I want to make sure, in this case, that we follow the rules as close as possible. That is very important,” stressed Flanigan. “The entire state is watching. This has to be done correctly.”

Plants was initially barred from seeing his two sons under the protective order.  But Kim Aaron, a Kanawha County magistrate, modified Plants’ bond last month to allow him supervised visits with the boys. That was after Flanigan had been appointed the special magistrate in the case.

Flanigan said, under the law, it was up to him, not any other magistrate, to modify the bond.

Flanigan heard from Plants’ attorney James Cagle, who said his client has complied with a family court judge’s order to undergo counseling.

Cagle read from the report filed by Dr. Clifton Hudson. “We do not perceive any imminent safety threat to Mr. Plants resuming normal contact with his children. And we believe that a forced separation from their father is unlikely to be in the children’s best interest.”

The special prosecuting attorney assigned to the case, Sid Bell, said he had no objection to Plants continuing to see his sons, as long as the visits were supervised.

Flanigan agreed to modify the bond, letting Plants see his children under supervision and talk with them on the phone and via Skype.

Plants faces two trials, one for domestic battery, the other for violating a domestic violence protective order. He’ll be back in court on May 21 for a status hearing.

Plants declined to comment after Friday’s hearing.

 

bubble graphic

17

bubble graphic

Comments

  • George

    This is crazy"..it appears that the law board is contradictory in the assumption of "innocent until proven guilty. Is this all it takes is for someone to accuse us then we are automatically convicted??? As a matter of fact, this one has sounded strange from the beginning"..............

  • Debra

    Nothing quite like the revenge of a woman scorned. She is aware that even if the charges are found to be bogus, the damage has already been done. Funny thing is, she might be cutting off her nose to spite he face. If he no longer had that nice job, child support payments could suffer. I'd say they probably should reach a mutual agreement before the you know hits the fan.

    • thornton

      Can't see much that is funny here but, I suppose that money mention has some short-range truth to it...heck, kids are tough critters and bruises eventually heal.
      The ones on the outside anyway.

  • Billy Bob

    Why the F@#$ would Kim Aaron be allowed to make decisions for this case. She is a Plant crony.

  • thornton

    Until there is a resolution of Plant's personal legal issues, the first paragraph seems fair and so, advised.
    I would think that if recommendations of the ODC are not followed, then the opposite attorneys in any such cases involving Plants will be tickled pink with the opportunity to complain and file objections.....thereby raising the costs in time and money of the cases, ultimately, to the Public.

  • Vid

    If his first wife could not trust him,should we? His 2nd wife must not trust him either because on the tube she is always there not letting him out of her sight!

    • Abbagoochie

      True or not on the charges only the jury will decide, but if you dont have kids with woman, then you wont be held hostage for 18 years like most men are after a divorce. I see it all the time and not having kids works everytime its tried.

  • Aaron

    The one thing I would do were I Mr. Plants is remove this case from Magistrate Court and into Criminal Court.

    • Phil

      Magistrate court is criminal court. Magistrate court is where misdemeanors are heard.

      • Aaron

        He has a right have have it remanded to circuit court. We're I he, that is the route I would take. I would much rather have my fate heard by a Judge than a magistrate, the vast majority of whom's legal training consist of the training they receive after election.

  • Big Jime Slade

    The man played FB at WVU ! He is innocent of these ergregious charges. He should be given 100% custody of his children. His wife should be banished from the great state of WV. These McDowell and Mercer County legal greats will do the right things

    • Hailey

      Big Jim continues to have WVU envy... Very strange this clown would tied this it potential child abuse to football ...time to grow up James

    • BH

      Not sure if you are being sarcastic, but what does playing "FB at WVU" have to do with anything?

  • 1smartone

    So we should fire him...and if he is innocent...then hire him back?

  • Dennis

    How can a County Prosecutor be effective in their position when the said prosecutor is being prosecuted for an alleged crime? I realize that he is innocent until proven guilty, but his actions have place the court system and the citizens of Kanawaha County in an awkward position. For an educated man he has shown poor judgement with his actions both with his child and by allegedly violating a protective order issued by the court system of which he is an officer of.

    • angel

      He clearly broke a restraining order. Somebody at federal level needs to check judge Kelly's files and see what happens to any other father if that happens...Stop playing favorites in kanawha county!

    • Shadow

      You have already convicted him although you say he is still innocent. You can't have it both ways and you are not the Judge.