By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky said it was prudent that Thomas Reid withdrew his nomination to become a Circuit Court judge because of allegations raised by “a number of attorneys.”
Volinsky, a Concord Democrat who is running for governor, said in a news release that the concerns included Reid’s “failure to act when claims of harassment were raised against his former boss, County Attorney Jim Reams.”
Reid said in an email on Saturday that he was surprised by Volinsky’s remarks after having met with him and providing proof that he had acted appropriately and in fact he was the one to report his former boss’ behavior.
“As Deputy County Attorney, I took action every time my boss did anything that could be deemed inappropriate. The 2012 County Human Resources investigation of my boss was initiated at my request.
“In December of 2012, the County addressed the concerns with my boss, and specifically noted that any questionable conduct by him had stopped ‘since the investigation conducted by Deputy County Attorney Tom Reid in March 2011,’” Reid said.
Reid insisted that the confidentiality afforded to personnel matters can and in the Reams case has allowed “false narratives and inaccurate claims to remain unrefuted.”
Reid was Reams’ deputy in November of 2013 when then-Attorney General Joseph Foster illegally suspended Reams from his elected office. Foster had accused Reams of sexual harassment, ethics violations and financial mismanagement, but no charges were filed. A judge ordered Reams back to work and he later retired.
Volinsky said, “Although I understand Mr. Reid disputes these claims, it is prudent of Mr. Reid to withdraw.”
Volinsky said one attorney who raised serious concerns about Reid was previously interviewed by Gov. Chris Sununu’s judicial selection committee as part of her own application to become a judge.
“She was questioned in detail about the treatment she endured as an assistant Rockingham County Attorney,” Volinsky said.
The public has a right to know, Volinsky said, what the judicial selection committee did with the information, and what Sununu knew when he decided to put forward Reid’s name.
Volinsky wouldn’t say who made the allegations but said the accusers had planned to speak at the public hearing on Reid’s nomination on Wednesday, which will not be held because Reid withdrew his nomination.
“As I previously asked during the confirmation of another judge, is New Hampshire getting the best qualified nominees for judgeships from Governor Sununu? And what are the criteria the governor and his selection commission are using?” Volinsky said.
Reid said that confidential information regarding personnel actions could not be provided to staff when he was deputy county attorney.
But Reid later filed a public records request in court to obtain the investigation into Reams that also briefly led to Reid’s suspension before Foster said Reid was never a target of any criminal investigation. Reid later resigned and started a law firm in Concord.
“While I pursued a successful appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court in order to disclose factual information, many of the records remain confidential.
“When I met with Councilor Volinsky, I not only disputed the claim that I failed to act appropriately, I made him aware of the documentary evidence that refutes such claims, including communications with the County Commissioners and outside legal counsel,” Reid said.
Reid said Volinsky asked him about a letter he sent to an employee in 2011. The letter had been reviewed and approved by outside employment lawyers retained by the County.
“The letter itself, upon review, reveals the extent to which it has been mischaracterized. The employee has not produced the letter which remains otherwise protected as a personnel record,” Reid said.
Reid said he has been supported by numerous judges including Chief Superior Court Judge Tina Nadeau and retired Justice Richard Galway.
Reid said many former staff members, including the current Rockingham County Attorney, were going to appear at the hearing to speak on his behalf.
“It became apparent there was inadequate time to refute the recurring false narratives prior to the scheduled hearing. Given that it appeared the events were becoming politicized, I opted to withdraw my name,” Reid said.
Hearings on the two other judicial nominations of Kimberly Chabot of Henniker and John Curran of Londonderry will take place at the Executive Council meeting on Wednesday.