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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Reams barred from appointing replacement

Conway is a candidate for county attorney
By Doug Ireland
The Eagle Tribune Thu Jun 19, 2014, 12:28 AM EDT
BRENTWOOD — Former Rockingham County Attorney James Reams’ decision to appoint Patricia Conway as his interim replacement is being called an inappropriate and illegal move.
Conway, a longtime assistant county attorney, was chosen Tuesday by Reams to serve until the county delegation appointed his successor or voters elected a new county attorney this fall.
But an agreement reached in April between Reams and the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office stipulates that he had no right to appoint Conway, a Republican candidate for the position in the September primary.
The agreement outlines the provisions under which Reams could return to his $85,000-a-year job after being suspended with pay by county commissioners Nov. 6.
Attorney General Joseph Foster also revoked Reams’ authority as a prosecutor in the wake of allegations he sexually harassed female employees, committed ethical violations while in office and mismanaged county money.
Reams stepped down Tuesday after 15 years, saying he decided to retire and accept a $42,000 buyout of the remaining five months of his contract from county commissioners. The commissioners said Reams agreed to resign, prompting him to say their announcement was “erroneous.”
Associate Attorney General Jane Young and County Commissioner Kevin Coyle of Derry confirmed yesterday that Reams had no right to appoint Conway. The move has also drawn criticism from other candidates for county attorney.
The Attorney General’s Office fought to have Reams removed from office, but he was reinstated by Merrimack Superior Judge Richard McNamara. A hearing on his removal was scheduled for Aug. 4, but canceled after Reams agreed to step down.
The three-page agreement between the Attorney General’s Office and Reams, approved by McNamara on April 29, set restrictions on the county attorney’s return.
Reams was allowed to reassign the responsibilities of former Deputy County Attorney Thomas Reid, who was also suspended Nov. 6, along with victim-witness advocate Tara Longo. Reid and Longo were later cleared by the Attorney General’s Office, but resigned from their positions.
Young said the agreement “clearly” states Reams could not appoint Conway.
“County Attorney Reams shall not, however, formally install an assistant county attorney as deputy county attorney,” the agreement says.
Young said late yesterday afternoon she could not comment further on the matter and that she was on her way to meet with the three county commissioners to discuss replacing Reams.
“We want to make sure there is an administration of justice in that office,” she said.
Also yesterday, the Attorney General’s Office announced that a member of Reams’ staff, Assistant County Attorney Zachary Cross, was arrested Tuesday on a drug charge.
Cross, 29, was arrested by the New Hampshire Drug Task Force and the Manchester Police Department and charged with possessing Oxycodone, a painkiller. Young said she could not comment further on the arrest.
Young did say that Senior Assistant Attorney General James Boffetti returned to supervise the county’s attorney office yesterday and that Foster is discussing with county legislative leaders the possibility of filling the post.
Boffetti oversaw the office during Reams’ six-month suspension. He will remain there as the 46-member legislative delegation decides if it will appoint a replacement, Young said.
The Attorney General’s Office offered to have a member of its office oversee operations if a replacement wasn’t appointed by the delegation.
Delegation Chairman Rep. Norman Major, R-Plaistow, said his group’s executive committee isn’t scheduled to meet until at least early July. Reams notified Major of his decision to appoint Conway on Tuesday afternoon, saying “she is the most qualified, has the longest tenure and experience of anyone in the office.”
Neither Conway nor Reams could be reached yesterday for comment. Reams defended her in an interview Tuesday.
Conway is the husband of former Salem police officer Eric Lamb, whose name Reams is accused of removing from the state’s Laurie List of law enforcement officers whose credibility could be questioned if they are asked to testify in court.
Coyle criticized Reams’ appointment of Conway, saying he never notified county commissioners of the decision. He also said Conway — one of five county attorney candidates — should not have accepted the position.
“It’s another one of Jim’s shenanigans,” Coyle said. “She should have known better and said, ‘I don’t want any part of that.’”


Anonymous said...

I won't vote for Conway given her recommendation by Reams and her husband's dishonest label.

What other information do we have on the other candidates?

Anonymous said...

from the ET

dave coltin • 2 days agoExactly what I was hoping for: Reams out, Conway in. Conway lied to the Attorney Discipline Office in 2008 stating that her office did not fabricate evidence in a longstanding state prosecution that became a federal civil rights suit. The seriousness of the malicious acts committed by state prosecutors prompted two requests from the chief federal judge in New Hampshire and Senator Shaheen for answers, but state and federal prosecutors have stonewalled their requests. Conway will be asked to address this matter once again and her response will tell us whether or not she is fit for office. Moreover, her response should finally expose Senator Ayotte.

Anonymous said...