Rockingham County Attorney Reams' suspension affirmed
BRENTWOOD — A judge cleared the way for state and federal investigators to keep suspended Rockingham County Attorney James Reams off the job while they carry out an investigation into his office.
Judge Richard B. McNamara decided that Reams failed to show “that he will suffer irreparable harm as the result of his suspension” while the state attorney general and FBI continue their investigation into his office.
The investigation is expected to continue through January, McNamara noted.
“There are currently requests and subpoenas out for additional documentary evidence from various companies,” McNamara said in the order. “In addition, a forensic accountant has been hired to review the federally funded program account and to organize and analyze all of the information obtained from the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office.”
McNamara said in a court order that state investigators have a legal obligation to probe any allegation of wrongdoing and that Reams should not be reinstated during the probe.
If Reams was allowed to act as county attorney during the investigation, “the average citizen would wonder whether he was receiving the type of impartial justice that the Constitution requires,” McNamara said in a 16-page order.
Reams was temporarily suspended from office on Nov. 6 by Attorney General Joe Foster in the wake of an investigation into sexual harassment, management of a forfeiture account and allegations that he failed to disclose that one of his employees had a possible credibility issue after she testified in a criminal trial.
Reams has denied any wrongdoing.
He is contesting his suspension through a pair of lawsuits against the state Attorney General’s Office and Rockingham County Commissioners.
Hearings for both lawsuits are scheduled for Jan. 21 in Merrimack County Superior Court.
Reams’ lawyer, Michael Ramsdell, has said that the state and county commissioners have overstepped their legal and constitutional authority to unseat Reams from elected office.
Reams continues to be paid his annual salary of $81,730 during his suspension, according to records and officials. His deputy, Tom Reid, and a victim witness advocate, Tara Longo, also remain on paid administrative leave.