AG asks court to bar Reams from office
State prosecutors are seeking an injunction to keep Rockingham County Attorney James Reams out of office days after a judge decided he should reinstated. (JAMES A. KIMBLE/FILE PHOTO)
Attorney General Joe Foster filed the request on Friday to keep Reams, an eight-term Republican from Hampton, out of his elected post while removal proceedings are pending against him.
The hearing could happen as early as next week.
Reams was suspended from his prosecutorial duties on the night of Nov. 6 amid a state and federal investigation that concluded he sexually harassed employees, discriminated against others and mismanaged a forfeiture account that he used to fund training and to purchase office equipment, according to the state.
“In addition, his conduct will have a direct, negative impact on the work being done by the employees in the office and this will in turn have an impact on prosecutions,” Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards said in court papers.
Reams’ lawyer, Michael Ramsdell, protested the state’s request on Tuesday and asked a judge to not consider the accusation about Reams’ intent to act out against subordinates within his office.
The state Attorney General’s Office ultimately did not press any criminal charges against Reams following its five-month investigation, and instead filed a civil complaint asking a judge to remove him for misconduct.
Edwards argued in a new court filing that Reams’ reaction to past investigations about alleged harassment demonstrate “he will affirmatively attack the victims of his misconduct.”
He said that one unnamed county employee, who is cited in the removal complaint, has said she has no issue with Reams returning to his job. Another employee in the petition also said she was not discriminated against, according to Ramsdell.
Reams, who has denied any wrongdoing, said he will not seek reelection when his term expires in January.
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