07 May, 2014

The Botched Timothy Basham Case: What I Learned About How Kanawha Prosecutor Plants Run His Office (And What He Needs To Learn About Management)

In damage control mode, Kanawha County Prosecutor, Mark Plants, called me yesterday to present his side of how his office botched a "slam-dunk" drug felony case brought to him by the SAPD. We eventually spoke on the phone more than once and I am still alarmed and disturbed by what I learned . Here are some facts:

When the aforementioned felony drug case against Timothy Basham was dismissed, the SAPD didn't know about it until I told them. I found out by making a phone call to the 13th circuit administrator's office. When the case against Timothy Basham was dismissed by Judge Carrie Webster, neither Webster nor Prosecutor Plants' office notified the SAPD that all their great police work was in vain for mere want of a lab report that Plants' office failed to obtain. Without that report, Plants literally had no case so Judge Webster dismissed it. 

That case was dismissed in September. In December, Mark Plants spoke to my neighborhood watch group and when we asked him about the case he didn't recognize the name of the defendant but said he would get back to us. Plants never notified our group that the case had been dismissed.

I asked Plants how and why he didn't know that the assistant prosecutor assigned to the Basham case had not obtained a necessary document. I asked him if he has daily staff meetings wherein he asks about each pending case and requires the assigned APs to tell him the progress and disposition of their cases, one by one. Plants told me he has no such daily meetings. 

I advised Prosecutor Plants that holding such regular staff accountability and status report meetings is basic management and I'm shocked that he doesn't perform this simple management function.

I also offer him this: Read up on Deming Management method and read books about systems. Put systems in place to prevent the Basham incident from happening again. 

Let me close by paraphrasing Deming: Outputs are the result of systems. Management is in charge of the system which means when you don't get the right output, it's always management's fault. Always. Yes, an assistant prosecutor may have failed to go to the lab and get a lab result, but you didn't have a system in place to detect that failure. Mark Plants, this is on you. You're management. It's your fault.

If you live in the city limits of St. Albans and you support the goals and methods of neighborhood watch as a means of improving the city of St Albans, join "Public Group For St. Albans Neighborhood Watch" on Facebook at ::https://www.facebook.com/groups/PublicGroupForSt.AlbansNeighborhoodWatch/.

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