W.Va. Supreme Court Denies Request to Suspend Prosecutor's License
The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has denied a request to temporarily suspend the law license of Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants and has upheld a circuit court decision. That decision disqualified him from a prosecuting certain types of cases pending an outcome in criminal proceeding against him.
Plants is charged with misdemeanor domestic battery and violating a protection order after beating his son with a leather belt in February.
Last week, Plants agreed to a deal offered by prosecutors to drop the charges after a year if he participates in a pre-trial diversion program.
The West Virginia Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed the request with the Supreme Court to suspend Plants’s license until the completion of his criminal proceedings because of a conflict of interest between his own defense for his actions and his job to uphold state law and protect the public. In a hearing before the Justices earlier this month, the ODC claimed Plants posed a threat of irreparable harm to the public.
The Court, however, disagreed with that assessment in their per curiam opinion released Wednesday.
Justice Brent Benjamin disqualified himself from the proceedings, but the remaining justices ruled an order by Kanawha County Circuit Judge Duke Bloom issued last month removing Plants from any cases of abuse and neglect and violations of domestic violence protection orders was sufficient in protecting public interest.
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper expressed interest Tuesday in filing a petition with the state Supreme Court to have Plants removed from office but said in a release Wednesday:
“I am very grateful to the Supreme Court for their timely and succinct judicial determination. The Kanawha County Commission will completely and fully abide by the opinion and direction of the Supreme Court, as we should.”
The Supreme Court opinion concludes by saying: