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Rockingham County attorney returns to court to seek reinstatement
Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara told both sides to expect his ruling soon and declined an invitation Monday from Ramsdell to issue a verbal ruling on the spot. Both sides have vowed to appeal to the state Supreme Court if McNamara rules against them.
"I don't believe there will be any issue whatsoever," he said.
An attorney representing the Rockingham county commissioners joined the Attorney General's office is arguing that Reams continue to be barred from his office.
Ramsdell argued that Reams should have been reinstated when the attorney general concluded no criminal charges would filed. A county attorney has been suspended only one other time in state history in 1974 and only after criminal charges were filed against him.
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October described an office where Reams made vulgar comments, demonstrated inappropriate behavior including touching, and discriminated and retaliated against staffers who became pregnant. His repeated actions earned him the nickname "creepy Uncle Jim" among women in the office, according to Foster's complaint.
Click to watch News 9's coverage. 6, during an ongoing investigation into complains of sexual harassment by the veteran county attorney. Reams almost immediately filed a complaint seeking reinstatement to the job he's held since 1999.
Reams, who has denied the allegations, has said he won't run for re election when his current term expires in January. A Supreme Court appeal could take months. Ramsdell was asked after court when the passage of time would render any victory by Reams a hollow one.
Reams has been paid throughout his five month suspension.
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After court, Reams' lawyer, Michael Ramsdell, disagreed.
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Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young told the judge that permitting Reams to return to his office would have a "chilling effect" on the employees who spoke with investigators and form the basis of the Attorney General's efforts to seek Reams' permanent removal from office.
"Frankly, it's been an exercise in futility since we started in November," Ramsdell said. "It is a frustrating experience for County Attorney Reams."
"The consequences of allowing the county attorney back into office are significant," Christopher Cole argued.
FIGHT IF THE JUDGE RULES HE CAN GO BACK. JENNIFER IS LIVE OUTSIDE OF COURT. THE FIRST THING JUDGE MCNAMARA SAID WAS THAT HE WOULDN'T HAVE A RULING TODAY. IT WAS BACK IN NOVEMBER THAT HE WAS SUSPENDED FROM HIS ROLE AS THE ROCKINGHAM COUNTY ATTORNEY AND IT WAS LAST MONTH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE SAID IT WOULD NOT BE FILING CRIMINAL CHARGES. IT WAS CLEAR TODAY THAT IF THE JUDGE RULES TO REINSTATE HIM, THE AG WILL DO EVERYTHING IN HIS LEGAL POWER TO KEEP REIMS FROM RETURNING TO POWER. GRACIE WAS JOINED BY HIS WIFE AND SUPPORTERS OF THE COUNTY ATTORNEY IN COURT ON MONDAY. HE ARGUED HE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO GO BACK TO WORK. MY TEMPORARY SUSPENSION HAS NOW LASTED FOR FIVE MONTHS. HE WAS SUSPENDED AMID AN INVESTIGATION INTO MONEY MISMANAGEMENT AND A HOSTILE WORK IN ARM AND HER Palladium Boots Colours SEXUAL COMMENTS WERE MADE HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT. NO CRIMINAL CHARGES WILL BE FILED. THE STATE SAID IT SUPPORTS IF THE COURT RULES TO REINSTATE THEM, THEY WILL TAKE IT TO THE SUPREME COURT. LAST WEEK THE SAME JUDGE DENIED A REQUEST TO SEE ALL THE EVIDENCE INCLUDING THE NAMES OF PEOPLE WHO MADE STATEMENTS AGAINST HIM. TO ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN WOULD UPSET THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE IN THE COUNTY AND THAT IS SOMETHING THE ATTORNEY GENERAL CANNOT AND WILL NOT TOLERATE UNTIL HE EXHAUSTS ALL THE AVENUES AVAILABLE TO HIM LEGALLY. IT IS CONCERNING TO US. HIS ATTORNEY IS CONFIDENT HE WILL BE REINSTATED. IT IS A FRUSTRATING EXPERIENCE FOR COUNTY ATTORNEY REIMS, BUT WE ARE DOING WHAT WE CAN. IF HE IS REINSTATED I DON'T BELIEVE THERE WOULD BE ANY ISSUE WHATSOEVER. THE STATE HAS FILED A MOTION TO HAVE REIMS REMOVED FROM HIS OFFICE AND ALL AGREE THAT OWNED THE COURT CAN DO THAT. THAT WILL BE HEARD LATER THIS MONTH. THE JUDGE MADE AN INTERESTING POINT. IF THE CASE DRAGS OUT UNTIL THE END OF THIS TERM IN JANUARY AND HE IS NOT REINSTATED, THAT WOULD
In court documents made public last month, prosecutors say they have wrapped up their investigation and will not bring criminal charges against Reams. But in making their case for permanent removal from office, they also say Reams improperly handled and spent state and federal funds, covered up a staffer's lie and routinely sexually harassed his female employees.
"To allow Attorney Reams to go back into that office would be untenable to the Attorney General," Young said.
McNamara also heard arguments from former Union Leader reporter Nancy West that the complaint with the names intact should be made public.
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