BRENTWOOD — A judge yesterday ordered that suspended Rockingham County Attorney James Reams be reinstated.
But Merrimack Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara, who called the paid suspension “unlawful,” also granted a 30-day stay to allow his decision to be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
That means Reams won’t be returning to his office at Rockingham County Superior Court for at least a month if not longer.
The 15-year county attorney was suspended with pay by county commissioners Nov. 6 amid allegations he sexually harassed female employees, mishandled funds and mismanaged the office.
New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster immediately stripped Reams of his prosecutorial power following an investigation that also involved the FBI.
Reams and his attorney, Michael Ramsdell, sued the county commissioners and the Attorney General’s Office to seek immediate reinstatement.
In his 13-page ruling, McNamara disagreed with Foster’s contention that he had a right to suspend Reams for alleged misconduct.
The last hearing in the case was Monday. After a nearly five-month investigation, the Attorney General’s Office announced March 26 it would not file criminal charges against Reams.
Reams and Ramsdell have contended that the county attorney should not be suspended from the $85,000-a-year job if he does not face criminal charges.
Reams has denied the accusations against him, saying “I can tell you I didn’t touch any woman sexually in that office or any other place.”
He reiterated his innocence yesterday and said he was relieved to be exonerated.
“This has all been smoke and mirrors, and this is finally the end,” Reams said.
But Associate Attorney General Jane Young said the judge’s ruling will be challenged in the state’s highest court.
“We will be seeking an appeal,” she said. “We are ready to try that case.”
Reams said he’s ready to continue defending his credibility as county attorney and is looking forward to returning to the office he was first elected to in 1998.