CHARLESTON, W.Va. — One day after disqualifying Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants and his staff from working specific cases, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Duke Bloom swore in four members of a special prosecutorial team to handle those cases.
Former Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Don Morris was named the chief special prosecutor. He and three assistants will handle all cases in the city of Charleston involving crimes of violence by a parent or guardian, abuse and neglect cases and violations of domestic violence protective orders.
“Well be working with the prosecutors office to make sure we have all the case that are necessary. Anything that children are involved in violence against a child we’ll be handling it,” explained Morris.
The rest of Morris’ team includes Rocky Holmes, Adam Petry and Amy Bird.
Plants is facing one count of domestic battery involving his 11-year-old son and one count of violating a protective order. Judge Bloom, in a 10-page ruling, said, “For the sake of integrity of the legal system, the welfare of minors, and the public’s interest in the same,” the court should prohibit Plants and his office from hearing the cases involving children to avoid the appearance of conflicts.
Morris, who retired from the prosecutor’s office just last year, said, “I’m honored the judge had the faith and confidence to ask me to do it. It’s not a happy occasion and I hate to see the conflict and see this necessary. After 27 years, in the prosecutors office, I didn’t think I would see this, ” said Morris.
The cases have already been transferred to Morris and his team. He’s not sure exactly how many there are but said there are lots and the case load will keep the team busy.
“The children in the community need to be protected. That has to be our number one concern. We can’t have cases laying around not being handled,” stressed Morris.
Morris said the team will do their best to do the job they’ve been handed. He is not sure how long the assignment will last.