CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The state Supreme Court has scheduled arguments in the case involving Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants for May 5.
In an order issued Tuesday, the High Court said it wanted to speed up the proceedings following the recommendations from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel that Plants have his law license suspended after being arrested on separate misdemeanor domestic related charges.
The Court said “good cause” existed to speed up the case and set it for a hearing.
Plants is facing one count of domestic battery for spanking his son with a belt in February. Last month he allegedly violated a protective order which barred him from seeing his children.
The High Court came down just hours after Kanawha County Circuit Judge Duke Bloom held a hearing on a motion from the City of Charleston to remove Plants and his office from its domestic-related criminal cases involving women and children.
Paul Ellis, representing the city, told Judge Bloom there’s a fear any cases involving domestic violence handled by Plants’ office until his charges are ruled upon could lead to an appearance of impropriety. Ellis stressed cases could be appealed or dropped if they moved forward with questions still following the Plants.
Assistant Prosecutor Dan Holstein is handling the case for the Prosecutors office. He told the judge only cases involving children and corporal punishment should be off limits and the office has already recused itself from those. Special prosecutors have already been assigned to four of those cases.
Judge Bloom wanted to see a list of domestic violence cases involving children currently on the prosecutor’s agenda on his desk by 4 p.m. Tuesday. That is expected to add up to anywhere from 200 to 300 cases. Bloom also wanted both sides to present their proposed orders and findings of facts outlining their positions by noon Wednesday.
Bloom said once he has looked over those documents he would “rule promptly.”
Both sides remained, in the courtroom after the hearing trying to come to some sort of compromise. Ellis and Holstein agreed there are cases involving children the prosecutor’s office could continue to handle without any potential conflict. Cases that might be called into question could be handled by a special prosecutor assigned by the West Virginia Prosecutor’s Institute. Those talks are still ongoing.
In the Supreme Court ruling, Justice Brent Benjamin recused himself.