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UPDATED: Rockingham County Attorney challenges his suspension

Union Leader Correspondent

November 20. 2013 8:01PM
Suspended Rockingham County Attorney James Reams has submitted his latest argument to upend the attorney general's decision to temporarily remove him from office amid an investigation. JAMES A. KIMBLE/FILE PHOTO 

BRENTWOOD  — While suspended Rockingham County Attorney James Reams has been waging a court battle to be reinstated to his office, county commissioners say that no such effort has been made by his deputy to contest being placed on administrative leave.


Reams and Deputy County Attorney Tom Reid were temporarily removed from their posts at the request of state Attorney General Joe Foster and U.S. Attorney John Kacavas, who announced a joint probe on Nov. 7 into the county attorney’s office management and operations.


State prosecutors have refused to provide more details about the nature of the investigation. Investigators have spent the last two weeks interviewing current and former employees of the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office.


County Commissioners said on Wednesday that they have not heard from Reid or his lawyer about fighting the decision to take him off his job.


On Tuesday, Reams took the next step in fighting his suspension in Merrimack County Superior Court.


His attorney Michael Ramsdell argued in a new complaint that Foster did not have the authority to suspend Reams due to the investigation.


Commissioners recently approved letting Reid back into his office to retrieve personal items, according to County Commissioner Tom Tombarello.


Tombarello said he is becoming more concerned about keeping Reid and a victim witness advocate on paid administrative leave for a prolonged period of time — at the expense of county taxpayers.


“If they are not part of the investigation, I want them back to work,” Tombarello said.


Tombarello said the county commissioners were given a general sense of the nature of the investigation, but have not heard anything that would warrant putting Reid or the other employee on an unpaid leave.


“We haven’t been told of any reason to do that,” he said.


He said Reid and Reams’ office have remained locked since the investigation began.


Interim County Attorney James Boffetti said in an earlier interview that Reid’s caseload and other work are being handled by other prosecutors in the office. A judge replaced Reams on Nov. 6 with Boffetti, a state prosecutor, appointing him as interim county attorney at the request of Foster.


Boffetti said in an interview last week that he has no idea how long he will remain in the post, but will stay as long as Foster wants him there.


Reams was notified by phone and e-mail that he was suspended while attending a conference out of state.


Judge Richard McNamara decided at a hearing last week that Reams will have an opportunity to challenge the state’s decision to remove him from office at a hearing in December. McNamara was the same judge who approved the state’s request to suspend Reams more than two weeks ago.

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