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Plants Says He Won't Resign After ODC Recommends His Immediate Suspension

Reported: Apr. 14, 2014 6:06 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 14, 2014 6:38 PM EDT

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Leslie Rubin) -- Embattled Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants does not have plans to resign after the office that oversees lawyers recommended to the West Virginia Supreme Court that he should be immediately suspended, and/or his entire office be removed from prosecuting certain domestic violence cases.

The City of Charleston is also asking that Plants and his office be removed from prosecuting domestic violence cases involving parents and their minor children.

The Office of Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel said in a filing on Friday that Plants created a "conflict of interest" after his lawyer filed a motion to have the domestic battery charge dismissed saying that Plants was acting within a "constitutionally protected right to control the child."

Plants said in a news conference on Monday that he did not believe there was a conflict of interest.

"People are asking for my job, people are asking for my resignation because I spanked my child. If spanking was a crime, 75% of Kanawha County would be in jail," he said. Plants has continued to say he has done nothing criminally wrong.

"The allegation is that there's a conflict of interest that I can't prosecute cases that involve parents of domestic violence against their minor children, I totally disagree with it. The law is what it is. I didn't write it. I just follow it. The law clearly says that corporal punishment is lawful if it's reasonable," Plants said.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said two circuit court cases involving domestic charges were continued on Monday for six weeks as questions linger if the prosecutor's office can handle those types of cases.

"That alone is a great cause for concern," Carper said.

On Monday, the city of Charleston also filed it's own motion to mirror the ODC filing. They are asking that Plants and his entire office be removed from similar cases investigated by Charleston Police.

"We feel it's a very prudent decision. We do have a lot of concern, and we're uncomfortable," said Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster.

Mayor Jones says the legal action taken by the city may be premature. He also says they will agree to go along with whatever decision a judge deems fit.

"With the Office of Disciplinary Counsel out there making this kind of ruling, we want to make sure we're on solid legal ground," Jones said.

"This thing is now beginning to spiral out of control," Carper said.

When Carper was asked if he believed it was time for Plants to resign he responded, "I think it's time for us to see exactly what the court does with this. They're going to dispose of this matter, and they're going to dispose of it, I believe, I don't have any inside information, but I believe sooner than later."

During the news conference, Plants touted his achievements as prosecutor over the last six years and says the murder rate is down 75% since he took office. He says he's saved taxpayers money, and indicted and convicted more criminals than anyone in the history of West Virginia.

"Am I father who spanks his children? Yes," he said. "You look at my results as Kanawha County prosecutor and you decide for yourself if I deserve this job or not."

The Supreme Court has not issued a response as of Monday evening.

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