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Judicial panel votes to oust Kanawha prosecutor

Charleston Daily Mail file photo by Bob Wojcieszak A three-judge panel ruled on Tuesday that Mark Plants, seen in April, be removed from the post of Kanawha County prosecutor, citing “malfeasance in office.” Plants has 30 days to appeal the panel’s decision.
Charleston Daily Mail file photo by Bob Wojcieszak
A three-judge panel ruled on Tuesday that Mark Plants, seen in April, be removed from the post of Kanawha County prosecutor, citing “malfeasance in office.” Plants has 30 days to appeal the panel’s decision.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A three-judge panel has decided in a 44-page ruling Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants should be removed from office for “malfeasance in office.”

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said the decision has been stayed for 30 days to allow for an appeal.

Commissioners claimed in a petition that Plants committed malfeasance in office when he committed a wrongful act that interfered with the performance of his duties. Plants was charged in March with domestic battery after a February incident where he whipped his then-11-year-old son with a belt, leaving a large bruise. He also was charged with violating a domestic violence protective order when he stood with his children while their mother was inside a Fort Hill area pharmacy. Those charges still are pending.

The panel found that Plants committed wrongful conduct when he struck his son with a belt, leaving a 6-to-7-inch, “dark purple to dark brown” bruise on the boy’s thigh that was visible four days after the incident, according to the order.

Whether or not the injury was intentional should be left to a jury, the judges wrote in the order, but they found the action was “committed recklessly.”

“Mark Plants created a substantial and unjustifiable risk of physical harm to his child when he struck him multiple times with a leather belt hard enough to leave a six-to-seven inch bruise that was visible at least four days after the incident,” the judges wrote. “This risk of physical harm became the reality”

Corporal punishment is sanctioned by law but it must be “reasonable,” according to the order. The court found striking a child with an object “with enough force to cause bruising that can be seen at least four days later” unreasonable and wrongful.

“The child has a right to be free from the use of excessive corporal punishment as a discipline,” the judges wrote. “Mark Plants’s actions, whether committed intentionally or not, infringed on that right.”

The panel found that Plants should be removed because the incident involving Plants’ son “substantially interfered” with Plants doing his job…

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