- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams returned to work Wednesday after a five-month suspension and amid efforts by the state attorney general to permanently remove him from office.

Reams teared up as a WMUR-TV reporter (https://bit.ly/1hSKCiO) asked him how he felt outside the court complex in Brentwood. Accompanied by his wife, he said he was ready to get back to work.

“It’s been a long road,” said Janis Reams, as she walked with him into the courthouse.

Attorney General Joseph Foster stripped Reams of his prosecutorial powers on Nov. 6 during an investigation into complaints of sexual harassment and mishandling of county funds.

Foster said he won’t bring criminal charges, but is asking a judge to remove Reams for misconduct. A hearing on Foster’s petition is scheduled for Aug. 4 in Merrimack County Superior Court.

Reams has been fighting to return to work since November, claiming Foster has no authority to remove him from office absent criminal charges.

Reams‘ attorney and Assistant Attorney General Anne Edwards signed an agreement Tuesday restoring Reams‘ prosecutorial powers and allowing him to return to his Brentwood office.

Reams agreed not to discipline any member of his staff unless the county commissioners are consulted and approve. He cannot transfer, remove or discipline any of the assistant county attorneys, without Foster’s permission, according to the agreement.

Earlier this month, a Superior Court judge ruled against Foster’s bid to keep Reams out of office until the court rules on the petition for permanent removal.

Prosecutors had argued that staff members who cooperated in the investigation fear retaliation by Reams. Reams‘ attorney, Michael Ramsdell, dismissed notions that Reams will retaliate against staff members.

Reams and Ramsdell have denied that Reams used lewd language, inappropriately touched female staffers and retaliated against women who became pregnant. They also say there’s no merit to charges that he mishandled office funds.

Reams has said he won’t run again for the office he was first elected to in 1998. His term expires in January.

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