Suspended Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams will return to office on Wednesday, but his authority to make personnel decision will be limited.
Lawyers for Attorney General Joe Foster and Attorney Reams together crafted the agreement that allows the Reams to return to work.
Foster suspended Reams from his elected post in November and opened an investigation. In March, the investigation concluded with allegations of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and misuse of public money. No criminal charges were made.
According to the stipulation approved by a judge on Tuesday, Reams cannot reassign or discipline attorneys working under him without the Attorney General’s OK; to make personnel moves involving non-attorneys he would need the approval of Rockingham county commissioners. Those checks on Reams’s power are to protect employees who may have spoken against Reams during his investigation from retaliation.
Superior court Judge Richard McNamara ruled last month that AG Foster did not have the authority to suspend Reams. But his complaint to remove Reams from office is still pending. It will be heard in court on August 4th. If it is successful, Reams would lose his job.
His removal, though, would be mostly symbolic. Reams’ elected term ends in January, and Reams has said he will not seek reelection.