NH News
5:52 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Judge Reinstates Suspended Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams

Attorney Michael Ramsdell argues on Monday before Judge McNamara (not pictured). Formerly suspended Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams takes notes (right).
Credit Emily Corwin / NHPR

A New Hampshire judge has ruled that the continued suspension of Rockingham County attorney Jim Reams is illegal, and ordered his reinstatement.

Attorney General Joseph Foster suspended Reams’ power to prosecute in November, as the AG investigated allegations of sexual harassment and financial mismanagement.

But on Thursday, Merrimack Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara ruled that the AG does not have the authority to suspend Reams.  However, the judge postponed the effective date of his order by 30 days to allow the Attorney General's office time to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Michael Ramsdell, Reams’ attorney, says “we’re not surprised that the court has found and acknowledged that the only person who has done anything unlawful in this matter is the Attorney General, and not Jim Reams.”

The judge did not rule on the merits of the AG's investigation. Rather, McNamara found that the Attorney General does not have the authority to suspend an elected official unless the charges against him or her are criminal. These charges are not.

“Our concern now,” Ramsdell says, “is that [the AG’s office] will drag their feet and wait until the very last possible minute and continue to turn this suspension into a de facto removal.”

Earlier this week the AG's office signaled its intent to appeal to the Supreme Court, which could take time to rule on the case. Ream's term ends in January. He has said he will not run for reelection.