CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Commission voted Thursday night to begin removal proceedings against elected Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants due to the ongoing costs of special prosecutors.

Commission President Kent Carper and commissioners Dave Hardy and Hoppy Shores voted unanimously to seek the filing of a petition with the state Supreme Court which would then appoint a three-judge panel to hear the case.

The county has already paid $93,000 for special prosecutors because Plants is still charged with two domestic-related misdemeanor crimes for allegedly violating a domestic violence protective order filed by his ex-wife and a domestic battery charge in connection with using a belt to discipline one of his sons. A special prosecutor is handing domestic violence cases for Plants’ office because of a conflict of interest.

Plants is seeking to have the changes against him dismissed. He signed up for a 32-week batterers intervention program in Putnam County last week but county commissioners said the county shouldn’t be stuck with paying special prosecutors for that long with a bill that could reach close to $250,000.

Commissioner Hardy has been calling for Plants to resign for several weeks but the two-term Republican has given no indication he will do so.

The commission will have to prove by “clear and convincing” evidence to the three-judge panel that Plants should be removed from his elected position. Hardy told MetroNews Wednesday it’s a high standard to meet.

There is a very, very high presumption that once a person is elected to an office they should be allowed to finish out the term. In other words, the public is the ultimate decider of who is in an office,” Hardy said.

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  • Maxeer

    Good gosh!!!..will this dude EVER go away...

  • Judge Judy

    I would wipe that smirk off your face. Violating a domestic violence protection order should cost you your law license. The belt beating disgusts me but that is not against the law. The DVP violation is and you should pay for that to the full extent of the law.

  • any major dude

    Seems like some people want to blame the KC commissioners or Mr. Morris or Mr. Brown or anybody else for this mess. Seems like Mr. Plants is the one who should be blamed here. If he hadn't done wrong, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

  • thornton

    If Plants is sitting on the curb soon there is always the option of hat modeling.
    So, I choose not to worry about him....perhaps because I do not see any bruises.
    Egos don't count.

  • Jim

    The state legislature could end this problem, now. Pass a law that says you can spank your kid, and put in clear guidelines so that completely normal parental discipline, like hitting a kid with a belt, can't be used by vengeful jealous ex-spouses to create needless legal problems.

    • Drama Queen Conservative Troll

      Hitting a child with a belt is not completely normal parental discipline. It is extreme.

      • Silas Lynch

        If you feel that way then by all means, do not punish your child that way.

  • Moe

    The sooner Uncle Fester is gone, the better.

  • David

    Here's my problem with political parties.
    The Republican Party should tell him to resign from his job or from the party and if he refused kick him out!

    This is why I am unaffiliated with any party.

  • zero tolerance

    It seems the biggest scam in all of this is the rate at which the special prosecutor is being paid.

    And if I remember correctly when an alternative was attempted to be presented, the judiciary nearly threw them out of court for meddling.

    • Esquire

      Plants wants us to discuss rates. If he resigns, it all becomes academic. Keep your eye on the ball.

      • zero tolerance

        Team Carper/Hardy's entire argument has been about rates and cost to the county, NOT conduct issues.

        Who wants who to focus on rates?

        • Esq.

          The commission is rightfully concerned with cost and Plants inability to do his job. Remember, Plants AGREED to Blooms order.

          Plants has made red herring arguments, like Morris should be paid the court appointed rate ($60 per hour) when it is his practice (and the commissions practice to hire outside counsel at rates of $200 per hour +/-).

          • zero tolerance

            I guess what I am getting at is the whole thing stinks with all parties involved because its rooted in dirty politics while the tax payer gets left holding the bag. There is no innocent bystander in this fiasco except the tax payer.

            Kanawha County citizens are paying for a public servants to play a high stakes game of chess.

            PS: I agree with your comments

    • Esquire

      Plants office pays a similar rate when it hires outside counsel. I'm sure the Philadelphia lawyer we paid to represent him before the Supreme Court was paid a much higher rate.

      • Grossly Excessive

        With all of the news about the cost of special prosecutors in relation to Plants' office, Eyewitness News asked attorney Johnnie Brown how much he's being paid to represent the office in this matter.

        Brown said his compensation is $175 per hour.

  • Silas Lynch

    Kent Carper is a lawyer, "Civic" minded AND already an elected official of Kanawha County.. Why can't HE lighten the burden on the tax payer and step in and do the job for free or at least a more reasonable rate...

    Come on Kent, instead of pouring County tax dollars into sponsoring "Multifest", a City of Charleston block party, why not do the noble thing for a change.

  • Bill

    Plants well reasoned response to the Commission action:

    "All I want is my day in Court. Kent Carper and Dave Hardy are true politicians who lack integrity and character. They are political bullies who pounce on anyone who stands up to them- well I don't run away from bullies. We will fight this in court and the Commission will continue to waste more money on a cause they've already admitted that they will likely lose.

    Instead of trying to play dirty politics why doesn't the Commission request that the WV Prosecutors Institute handle this conflict for free as is customary? Or perhaps reduce Don Morris' hourly rate down from $200/hr? This isn't about saving tax dollars- it's dirty politics- which is business as usual for Kent Carper. "

    • Silas Lynch

      Mark Plants for County Commissioner

  • Bill

    His comment about the hourly rate paid the special prosecutor or suggesting less expensive options are available may land him back in front of Judge Bloom. As I recall, Bloom wasn't very amused with similar comments last time Plants was before him.

  • Fred

    That perpetual smirk on his face says to me that he thinks he is above the law and is amused by all the attention he is getting.

  • Ron - from Morgantown

    May I ask the voters of the Kanawha Valley one question ? Does this rise to the level of impeachment ? Politics aside, do you want to start a president where a duly elected official- elected by the people in a free and fair election is removed from office because he is too expensive to keep in office ? Impeachment is an option that should be used only in rarest of circumstances . Let me ask the question another way - If the circumstances surrounding Plants were not costing the county $ would we even be talking impeachment ? Those who want to impeach Mr Plants never mention job performance as a reason for removal . This is an issue related to expenses and I don't think using the" impeachment option" is the best way to resolve the conflict . Think about all the elected officials who have been impeached - how many were removed because of a "financial note " ? Its absurd .

    • Bill

      Yes. He can't the job. He must go.

  • Jim N Charleston

    Could care less about Mark Plants being removed 1 way or the other.

    Salary for:

    -WV Governor $12500 a month
    -WV Supreme Court Justice $10083 a month
    -WV Attourney General $7916 a month

    -Kanawha County Special Prosecutor which only handles a limited group of domestic violence cases who was appointed and whose salary was decided by Kanawha County Commission $30000 a month

    BTW US attorney General $15000 a month

    God Bless the Kanawha County Commission for 'looking out for our tax dollars'

    All I got
    I'm Jim N So Charleston

    • Silas Lynch

      Well Jim, some in West Virginia are very masterful at playing dirty politics. Do you think if a special prosecutor would of been hired for as little that is actually possible it would of been as "eye popping" and damaging to Plants and aiding in Carper's goal of removing him?

      • Aaron

        Bills got to pack, which they have.

      • Aaron

        Hardly see how this is dirty politics given that Plants said a month or so ago that if the bills got to he would resign. They are getting to have so he either is a man of his word or he is a liar.

        • Jason412

          I have to agree with Aaron. Plants said he would resign if it wasn't resolved quickly and was costly to the taxpayers, a statement I'm sure he now regrets, and now acts as if him entering into a year long diversion program and remaining prosecutor is the best possible option for the people of Kanawha County. It will end up costing the hundreds of thousands of dollars Plants said he would be "appalled by".

        • His words

          Long version:

          "Do you feel like you need to resign?" asked reporter Leslie Rubin.

          "That's completely premature," Plants said. "The criminal charges are still pending. We need to figure out the outcome of that, and then we'll see how long it lasts. I have no intention of sticking around a year and costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's not going to happen. I'm going to see how my criminal cases work out, and if they're dismissed in a short amount of time, then it will work out for me. I have no intention of sticking around for years costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. As a taxpayer, I'm appalled by that."

        • His words

          " I have no intention of sticking around for years costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. As a taxpayer, I'm appalled by that."

    • Coach

      It's always more expensive a la carte. Plants has the true cost savings mechanism. He is the problem not the commission.

  • Aaron

    It's about time.