CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Supreme Court seemed to indicate Monday a request to suspend the law license of Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants is premature.

Justices heard arguments on the recommendation from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel that Plants lose his law license because of a conflict of interest and public perception. Plants has been in hot water since he was charged with two misdemeanors including violation of a Domestic Violence Protective Order and Domestic Battery.

Several state Supreme Court justices questioned Monday whether a conflict still exists in the office now that a special prosecutor is handling the bulk of domestic-related cases. Kanawha County Circuit Judge Duke Bloom entered an order last month that created a special prosecutor’s office to prosecute those cases. Justice Margaret Workman said Monday that seems to have removed the conflict.

“The conflict has been removed for now has it not?” Workman asked.

Justice Menis Ketchum told the ODC it was seeking a lot. He said Plants “couldn’t even write a will” if the Supreme Court agreed with the ODC’s recommendation.

ODC attorney Joanne Villa Kirby argued even though there is a special prosecutor Plants’ actions create a conflict of interest in the entire office. She also said the public perception of the office has been damaged.

“This is an extremely important issue, the public perception of the impartiality and integrity of the prosecuting attorney’s office and our system of justice,” she said.

But Chief Justice Robin Davis told Kirby the ODC would have a stronger case for suspension if Plants is actually convicted of something.

“Let all of the allegations run their course and if there are convictions then, in terms of discipline, you would have, I think, a much stronger position,” Davis said.

Justice Workman said a suspension now would effectively remove Plants from his elected office.

“We have not ever had an occasion to do that because there’s a whole other statutory mechanism from removing a public officer from his office,” Workman said.

Plants’ attorney Robert Davis told the justices Plants agreed to step off the domestic violence cases and there’s no evidence he has done anything to influence one case.

The Supreme Court is expected to come out with a ruling soon.

Plants’ ex-wife obtained a domestic violence protective order earlier this year after she alleged Plants had abused their son. Plants allegedly violated the order when he spent a few minutes with his sons as they were waiting for their mother in a drug store parking lot. Plants was then charged with domestic battery in connection with the original investigation.  He spanked his son with a belt leaving a bruise. He has said on multiple occasions he has committed no crimes.

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Comments

  • not so fast

    There is no need for excessive celebration on Plants part. The ODC got what it asked for - Plants removal from hundreds and hundreds of domestic violence cases. A team of four lawyers is required to handle that caseload at a substantial cost to the citizens of Kanawha County.

    Remember, Plants volunteered to remove himself from only five corporal punishment cases and claimed his office could ethically handle the rest (including cases involving alleged violations of DVP's). The city of Charleston and Judge Bloom felt otherwise.

    The first smart thing Plants has done since his whole thing began was to "agree" to Judge Blooms order disqualifying his office from domestic violence cases and saving his law license at least for now.

    I look for corruption charges to be brought against Mr. Plants in the coming months so it may be prudent to keep the champagne on ice for a while.

  • Info

    What I find interesting is the fact that no one other than the Gazette has showed any interest in the motion Plants' attorney filed last Friday. They (Gazette) reported that Ms. Allison Plants had drove her children while drinking alcohol in the past and that they have a tape of her "physically attacking" Mark Plants. So, not only does she leave her children unattended in parking lots while she shops, but she also drives them while consuming alcohol. The public (and a jury) must believe it to be true, because when the special prosecutor filed his response yesterday, there was no defense mentioned that this did not occur. I support Mark Plants, and know many others that do as well. I think when this goes to trial, the public will hear a lot of new info about his ex wife that will point out just how vindictive she truly is.

    • Jason412

      Info,

      I found the article. The prosecutor did provide a defense saying there is no proof that is true.




      "Bell wrote Monday that this is the first time Plants has ever mentioned anything about his ex-wife purchasing alcohol. He wrote that Allison Plants “ went into the pharmacy to buy a box of food coloring to make St. Patrick’s Day cookies. There is no evidence, video or otherwise, that she went into the store to purchase wine or any other alcoholic beverage, and there certainly is no evidence that she had consumed any alcoholic beverage on that day or any other day in the past year or more.”

      • Get real

        I guess now Plants will argue she was a bad cook.

        He wants to talk about anything other than his conduct which led to a 4 day old horseshoe shape bruise (in the shape of a belt loop) discovered by the victims brother.

    • William Glasser

      Why should the ex-wife be upset ?

      1. A secret baby with his secretary.

      2. Extraordinary salary increases for his paramour.

      3. Traffic tickets fixed for the new wife.

      4. All of the above.

      • Jason412

        Info,

        I'd say if Plants knew his wife drove drunk with his children and did nothing about it, until he was being prosecuted, that just begs more questions of Mr. Plant's character.

        I'm not defending her, so don't get me wrong. But I question what kind of prosecutor let's his wife violate the law, risking their children's lives, and does nothing until he can use it to save his own butt.

    • Aaron

      As a prosecutor, did Mr. Plants not know the consequences of violating a protective order? Were you the individual with whom the DVP was against, that was your middle school kids in the car and Mr plants were standing by you as you considered violating the order, what advice would he give you? Don't you think he would tell you to obey the law because if you broke it, he would be forced to prosecute you.

      Yet he broke the law. He should have kept his mouth shit and stepped aside until the issue was settled. He did neither. He has disgraced the office more than his predecessors thus he's not fit to hold the office, at least IMHO.

  • DWM

    He spanked his son with a belt and left a bruise?

    What is a butt for? If one of my sons swore, I'd put a drop of Dove dish soap on their tongue. I guess I was an abuser too? If they misbehaved in public, I'd spank their bottom with my hand. Throw the cuffs on me, I'm guilty! I admit it!

    I'm puzzled why everyone does not see this for what it is, a scorned woman going after her ex-husband and using her kids to do it.

    Shame on her and good luck trying to tell that kid what to do when he gets to be a teen.

    • William Glasser

      The butt is for spanking with an open hand.

      Using a weapon is assault.

      • Info

        Then arrest his ex wife, because she admits over and over again to "assault".

        • William Glasser

          His ex-wife's guilt does not make your guy innocent.

    • Hillbilly

      "God hath no fury such as that of a woman scorned"

  • TCeer

    A man disciplines his child and the PC police want to destroy him. A vindictive ex-wife is the real problem here. If Plants is railroaded here then there is no way you can possibly keep the government out of your personal lives. You better not spank your children. You better not say anything that isn't PC. We are headed down a social path that is very dangerous. Be sure to vote for democrats so you can keep this going. Be sure you don't stand up to the educators in this state when they intervene in your private lives. Be sure you tow the line. Be assured our freedom will be lost without anyone firing a shot.

    • Really

      Vindictive ex wife, crimes against children unit of state police, special prosecutor, family court judge who granted the DVP, family court judge who left the DVP in place, office of disciplinary counsel, magistrate Harshbarger and his lawyer, judicial investigation committee are all participants in the 'railroading'.

      Plants must be a participant as well he agreed to leave the DVP in place, attend anger management counseling, have only supervised visits with his children (with no overnights), pay his ex wife's attorney fees, pay the guardian ad litem's attorney fees etc. etc. Plants must be part of the PC police as well.

  • Mark

    It's simple innocent until proven guilty. How many dads could be charged with the same thing just for spanking their child.

    • William Glasser

      He confessed on TV. Said he did not mean to leave a mark. The belt when wild on its own.

      Plants is only responsible for failure to maintain control ... of his belt. A simple traffic ticket.

    • thornton

      I don't believe that "just spanking" is the issue....tho many try to change reality and make it so.

      The court appears to be thinking with a wider mind than simply Plants...which is their job. One must accept their opinion and simply regret that a few apparently view ethics as something which applies to others.

      • Silas Lynch

        If "just spanking" isn't the issue here, than just what is?

        • thornton

          Spanking too far.....perhaps a moniker change to Frank Drebin would be apropos.

  • The bookman

    Although I think the Court made the right call, I still think the office of the Prosecutor is tainted with Plants at the helm. He has placed himself above the integrity of the law and his office, and therefore the people of Kanawha, and to a lesser degree, the people of the State of WV. The right thing for Plants has been all along to step aside in a voluntary leave of absence. It's too late now, as the damage has been done to his standing as a public servant. I doubt he could ever serve again, and that is on him. Sad that such a momentary lapse in restraint has ruined the career of Mr Plants. When it's all over, and the verdict on his guilt or innocence is produced by judge or jury, he can look in the mirror and know that win or lose, he lost!

    • Silas Lynch

      Some one give me enough CONCRETE legal reasons why this man should resign...

      • William Glasser

        It is against public policy for a prosecutor to invent a constitutional defense.

        Plants's bizarre claim that he has a constitutional right to beat his child with a belt amounts to his positing fraudulent law.

        Now others can use his fake defense.

      • The bookman

        I don't suggest resignation, I suggest leave of absence. Back at the beginning of this fiasco, if he had simply stepped aside, out of the spotlight, it would already be resolved. His belligerence in his refusal to take that step, and then to fight every effort to force his compliance with the common sense argument that he shouldn't be involved in domestic abuse cases demonstrates his inability to see the larger picture.

        I spank my children. Often. Never in a reflexive posture, and only after informing them of the coming consequences of their ill advised behavior. As their father, it is my responsibility to shape and mold my children, and that requires reward and discipline. Plants deserves the same latitude, and it isn't for me to judge him or his methods. I wasn't there, and it's none of my business.

        That having been said, his ex wife has the responsibility to protect the health and we'll being of her children, and if an abusive path was exercised by Plants toward his son, she is duty bound to report it and correct it. That's their business, not mine. This is public fodder because Mark Plants has made it so. His choices have created the circus environment we have today, not the actual discipline, but the public way in which he has attempted to explain his actions. It's a private matter, and the only way to have achieved that privacy, was for Plants to take that leave from his office and work out the differences with his ex wife in a private setting. WV SUPCO got it right, but Plants didn't win anything. He is still front and center, and that is the last place he should be.

  • arp

    Plants has been convicted of nothing to this point. He's victim of a lynch mob, lead by the extremely partisan Charleston Gazette. Perhaps the Supreme Court still believes in innocence until proven guilty?

    • Get it straight

      My bad, Danny Jones has thrown a few haymakers.

    • Get it straight

      Google the case. They only person adding accelerant to the wildfire is the prosecutor. The news stories come from press conferences, radio talk show appearances and pleadings (acknowledging paternity for the first time and asserting a constitutional right to beat your children).

      He is the only one talking and the media is reporting it.

    • William Glasser

      The guy confessed on TV.

    • BS

      Agreed this is a lynch mob from the head clown in Charleston city hall to the Gossipzette. Hope the SC does the right thing and dismisses as premature and baseless.

  • cutty77

    The Crooks Protect The Crooks. Why did anybody think this was going to be different. Kinda of make Duke Bloom look like a Clown.

  • Pickle Barrel

    Rational statements put forth by the Court. With the appointment of a special prosecutor and staff for domestic cases, any conflict of interest has been removed. If "public perception" was ever a ground for the suspension of law licenses, quite a few ambulance chasing attorneys would be out of business.

    • William Glasser

      Novel assertion: Plants says he is no longer conflicted since Judge Bloom imposed a court-ordered remedy which his, Plants's, allegedly criminal conduct necessitated.

      Clever.

  • David

    Of course it's premature! If they did this there are a lot of other attorneys who might be next based on past behavior issues ...