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Prosecutor fired after dispute over succession

A Wise County prosecutor who sued to overturn the appointment of another as interim commonwealth’s attorney has been fired.

Adrian Collins cried foul when former Commonwealth’s Attorney Ron Elkins designated his successor as Mike Abbott, despite a state statute calling for the top ranked assistant prosecutor to take over. Collins had been the chief deputy in the office.

Elkins was leaving the elected position to become a juvenile and domestic relations judge.

Collins asked a judge to overturn Abbott’s installation as commonwealth’s attorney and to place Collins in the top seat.

In a Jan. 7 memo, Abbott stated that Collins was “no longer employed by the Wise County and City of Norton Commonwealth’s Attorney Office and no longer has the status of a deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney.”

“I wouldn’t keep my mouth shut,” Collins told The Coalfield Progress. He said he was given the option to resign, but he chose to be terminated Monday.

Abbott has explained his designation as interim commonwealth’s attorney as way to avoid politics in the office. Abbott is not running for election to a full term, but Collins had announced his intention to run.

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