Editorial: Judge Bloom was correct to bar Plants from prosecuting abuse cases
The second wife of Julius Caesar, Pompeia, hosted at her home the festival of the Bona Dea in 62 B.C., which was for women only. However, Publius Clodius Pulcher disguised himself as a woman, and joined the gala with the purposes of seducing Pompeia.
But guards caught him. At trial he was acquitted of a charge related to this.
But the incident ended the marriage of the target of his affection, as Julius Caesar declared, “My wife ought not even to be under suspicion.“
Judges, prosecutors and all other attorneys have adopted this standard of being above the appearance of impropriety because of all branches of government, the judiciary is the most dependent on trust and public confidence.
Which explains why Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom disqualified Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants and the rest of his staff from prosecuting hundreds of cases involving allegations of child abuse and neglect, and violations of domestic protection orders.
The prosecutor is in a messy battle with his ex-wife, who claimed that he beat their son by whipping him with a belt. Plants also stands accused of violating a protective order by standing with his sons when he said he found them unsupervised in a retailer’s parking lot.
The city of Charleston and the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel sought to have Plants and his office removed from these cases. After hearing both sides, Bloom made his decision.
“It is in the public’s interest that child abuse and neglect, violent crimes against children by their parent, guardian, or custodian, and criminal violations of protective orders be prosecuted impartially without any appearance of impropriety,” Judge Bloom wrote.
The lesson of Caesar’s domestic situation 2,086 years ago still applies. Under our court system, we presume Plants, like Clodius, is innocent unless proven guilty.
But as an attorney, he must be like Caesar’s wife and be beyond suspicion. Judge Bloom took care of that.
Fortunately for the county, Judge Bloom had a good lawyer available to take over the cases. The prosecutions are in the capable hands of Don Morris, a retired assistant prosecutor, and his team of lawyers.