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Boone prosecutor to handle Kanawha family judge’s case

By Kate White, Staff writer

Boone County’s prosecuting attorney will serve as special prosecutor in the criminal case against a Kanawha County family court judge.

Keith Randolph was appointed by the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Institute this week.

Kanawha Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants’ office recused itself from Snyder’s case because Jim Cagle, who represents Snyder, also represents Plants on criminal charges. Plants faces two misdemeanor charges related to striking his son with a belt.

“There is at least the appearance of impropriety,” prosecutors wrote in a motion asking a special prosecutor be appointed.

Snyder is charged with battery on a health-care provider, a misdemeanor. Police say Snyder grabbed a nurse by the arm and yelled in her face at CAMC General Hospital last November.

Snyder has demanded a jury trial in magistrate court. After months of delay, the trial was scheduled to begin last week, but it was postponed again after Plants’ office filed a motion for a special prosecutor.

It isn’t clear how many cases Cagle has pending in Kanawha County, or if Plants’ office has had to ask for a special prosecutor in other cases. Plants’ office is already barred from handling cases involving child abuse and neglect, violent crimes against children by parents or guardians or criminal violations of protective orders. He faces two misdemeanors: domestic battery of his 11-year-old son and violating a domestic violence protective order.

According to a criminal complaint, Snyder was visiting a friend on the hospital’s fifth floor when he talked to nurse Stephanie King at the nurses’ station.

Snyder asked King why his friend wasn’t being cared for and asked that she make his bed and deliver his medication. King told Snyder she would have to speak to his friend first, and then Snyder grabbed her left arm and tried to pull her down the hallway toward his friend’s room, according to the complaint.

King jerked away from Snyder, who allegedly pointed his finger in her face and yelled at her. Snyder also yelled at hospital staff, accusing them of not taking proper care of his sick friend, the complaint states.

Hospital staff asked Snyder to leave several times, but he allegedly refused. Security officers arrived and escorted him from the building. Charleston Police Patrolman E.J. Tipton interviewed King, who was upset and crying, according to the complaint.

The next day, state Supreme Court administrator Steve Canterbury filed a expedited complaint against Snyder with the state Judicial Disciplinary Counsel. The commission’s report, and Canterbury’s original complaint, aren’t open for the public to see. The Supreme Court issued an order Nov. 20 saying the matter would “held in abeyance.”Snyder hasn’t commented on the matter. Through his secretary, he referred questions about the case to his attorney.

Snyder has been a family court judge since then-Gov. Bob Wise appointed him in 2000, when the West Virginia family court system was created. Before that, he was a public defender.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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