CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Commission made plans Wednesday during a special meeting to replace embattled Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants.
A three-judge panel handed down a 44-page order Tuesday that said Plants should be removed from office for malfeasance and neglect of duty. Less than 24 hours later, the commission met to formulate their plan for the future of the prosecutor’s office.
“I don’t know how much more that office can take,” said Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper.
The judges’ order gives Plants 30 days to respond.
Carper said Plants has three different options: he could resign from office, he could appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court or take no action at all. Depending on which decision Plants makes, it will trigger action from the commission.
“If he resigns, one code section kicks in. If he waits out the 31 days, another code section kicks in. At some point this commission will have the responsibility, in all likelihood, to appoint a successor,” stated Carper.
For now, the commission has decided to “monitor the current status” and let Plants take the lead. But all three commissioners were in agreement the prosecutor’s office must continue to function as seamlessly as possible.
“Our staff has been instructed by us to work with that office. No change! The office must continue and will continue,” said Carper.
However, Carper and Commissioner Dave Hardy agreed, Plants won’t be getting a pay check once a temporary prosecutor is named.
“I’m not signing any check to pay him during that period of time,” said Carper.
“I would agree,” said Hardy.
“Unless I get a court order,” stressed Carper.
The commissioners said anyone applying for Plant’s job will have to meet some tough criteria.
“It absolutely has to be someone that knows how the run that office. They’ve got to have proven skill in management, budgeting and they ought to know how to try a case. How can you run a law office if you don’t try a case?” asked Carper.
When it comes time to appoint a prosecutor, the commission president said they will hold a public meeting. Applicants will have to stand in front of the commissioners and list their qualifications and why they deserve the job. All of it will take place in an open session so that the process is transparent.
Hardy said Plants could save the county time and even more money if he were to do what, he said, he should have done in the first place.
“The easiest way to resolve this, for the good of the public, is for Mr. Plants to resign!”
MetroNews tried to contact Plants for his reaction. He did not return our calls.