The Kanawha County Commission will be represented by Nelson Mullins in a pro bono effort to remove Mark Plants as the prosecuting attorney, according to The Charleston Gazette.
Melissa Foster Bird is the attorney from Nelson Mullins who has taken on the case. Bird said that she has started work on a petition to remove Plants from the commission. Bird also said that the firm is not charging for the work because of the amount of money Plants has already cost the county.
County commissioners voted in July to begin the removal process for Plants, who is facing two charges of domestic violence at the misdemeanor level.
A special prosecutor is being paid by the county commissioners to prosecute Plants. Another special prosecutor has been assigned to deal with domestic violence cases. Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom prevented the office of Plants from working on domestic violence cases due to the charges against him.
Don Morris, a former assistant prosecutor, was appointed by Judge Bloom to prosecute domestic violence cases. Four assistants from Plants’ office were moved to Morris’ office to help with the cases.
Commissioners said at a meeting towards the end of July that the county has paid $92,000 for the special prosecutors so far.
“The citizens of Kanawha County and the state of West Virginia are paying for numerous people to handle these matters,” Bird said. “Nelson and Mullins thinks of this, not as much for the commission, while that’s obviously our client, but the work being done will benefit the state of West Virginia and Kanawha County.”
Dave Hardy, a Kanawha County Commissioner, said that the commission is going to pay the firm’s expenses, but not the hourly fee.
“I think it’s community service in that they’re willing to help us remedy a very complex problem for the taxpayers,” Hardy said.
A three-panel judge at the state’s Supreme Court will hear the petition once it is filed in Kanawha Circuit Court.
“That panel would hear evidence and then make a recommendation that he should either be removed from office or permitted to continue,” Bird said.
Plants was charged with domestic battery after striking his 11-year-old with a leather belt and leaving a bruise of 6-to-7-inches. According to police, Plants also violated a domestic violence protective order that barred him from contacting his ex-wife and two sons. He violated this order when he approached a car the boys were in outside of a pharmacy in Charleston.
The State Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel asked the Supreme Court to suspend Plants’ license and/or remove him from handling domestic violence cases when the charges were filed.
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