CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office is asking a judge to appoint another special prosecutor to cut down on costs of a current special prosecutor handling domestic violence-related cases.
The motion, filed Thursday, asks the court to consider someone already on staff in Prosecutor Mark Plants’ office as a remedy to the costs of current special prosecutor Don Morris.
Morris is being paid $200-an-hour to handle felony domestic violence cases and supervise three other prosecutors who are handling misdemeanor cases. Those assistant prosecutors were previously on the county’s payroll.
The county commission has already been given a $24,000 bill for the special set-up that Kanawha County Circuit Judge Duke Bloom ordered after Plants was taken off the cases because of the two misdemeanor domestic charges he faces himself.
The motion doesn’t ask Bloom to change his decision but simply add someone to assist Morris, the chief prosecutor. The motion said it would be a minimal cost compared to what Morris is doing now, which is handling all of the felony cases, including the legwork on those cases. It would place Morris in a more supervisory role causing him to work fewer hours.
Kanawha County commissioners said the cost for the special prosecutor could be as much as $300,000 in one year.
County Commissioner Dave Hardy said he would favor the proposal if it can be proven the work on domestic violence cases can been done effectively.
“I’m looking at any option that would reduce the cost but at the same time the work is very, very important,” Hardy said.
Plants is currently under a pretrial diversion agreement which would have the charges against him dropped in a year if he meets certain requirements but the legality of the agreement has now been questioned. A magistrate has scheduled a hearing for late June.
Earlier this week Hardy called on Plants to resign his position but he declined to speculate Thursday if the motion makes it look like Plants is not considering the option.
“I can’t speculate on that at all and I wouldn’t,” Hardy said. “I think that Mr. Plants has a lot of issues to work his way through. My job is to make sure the county’s budgeting process remains intact and secondly, more importantly, that the work of the prosecutor’s office continues on.”