Joe Plaia statement announcing his entry into Rockingham County Attorney’s Race

Plaia vows changes, says voters won’t be fooled again

(BRENTWOOD, NH - 4/1/14) Thanks for coming everyone. I especially want to thank my mom for being here – thanks mom. I’m here today to announce that I will be a candidate this year for Rockingham County Attorney. In doing so I have three key goals: 1. Keeping Rockingham County Safe; 2. Saving county money and reducing crime by rehabilitating offenders; 3. Bring professionalism, respect and dignity back to the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office.

My entire career has been dedicated to keeping people in my charge safe. As a Marine Military Police Officer, I trained and worked with local law enforcement, the US Border Patrol and Drug Enforcement Administration, and the FBI at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma where the borders of California, Arizona, and Mexico meet. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, I focused on criminal law and graduated from what is now the UNH School of Law.

Since then, I have worked on every side of the criminal justice system from acting as a public defender,  to serving as a prosecutor for the New Hampshire State Police in Rockingham and Strafford Counties,  to my current post adjudicating cases as chief hearings officer for the New Hampshire Liquor Commission. At every turn in my career, from patrolling a post in marine uniform, to determining if bar owners are doing what they should to keep their patrons and the public safe, I have focused on keeping people safe. And when I’m your Rockingham County Attorney, that will remain my number one priority from the moment I wake up every morning until I fall asleep that night.

In 2012, I decided to run for this office because I’d seen the way that other prosecutor’s offices around the state and country were initiating innovative programs to reduce crime by cutting recidivism. I’d watched how other jurisdictions were saving money and time by using alternative sentencing programs. In 2012 alone Merrimack County had approximately 75 people in their diversion program while Rockingham County Attorney’s office used it exactly once. I knew  how counties were aggressively pursuing federal funds to help fairly manage cases against veterans and the mentally ill who are charged with crimes.  And I’d seen how Stafford County uses Early Case Resolution to resolve nearly 40% of their cases at the district court level before they are sent through the costly process of empanelling a grand jury and then sending it on to the Superior Court, saving money and time. It was on these issues of criminal justice policy that I had planned on running my campaign and, as I got started, I was eager to make the case for these reforms at parades and old home days, picnics and candidate forums, and at door steps and in the media.

But when I began running, something interesting happened. People would come up to me and say things like “thank you for running against Reams, he needs to go.” Then I started getting phone calls from colleagues who’d worked for the Rockingham County Attorney. The more I heard, the worse it became.  We’ve all now learned more about that situation than I think anyone ever wanted to. And this year, Rockingham County voters won’t get fooled again.

When I ran for Rockingham County Attorney in 2012, I knew that Jim Reams and his senior staff were wasting county money on junkets to sunny locales – now, thanks to the Attorney General and US attorney’s office, we know he was.

When I ran against Jim Reams in 2012, I heard from people I trust – women I’d gone to law school and practiced with - that he and his senior staff had created a toxic atmosphere for women – now, thanks to the complaint to remove Reams, we know they were. 

The citizens of Rockingham County deserve better. They deserve a prosecutor who thinks about their safety, not about his vacations. They deserve an office where everyone is treated with respect and fairness, not an office run by “Creepy Uncle Jim" (see NOTE below) or the Reams Team. They deserve a county attorney who is actually trying to reduce crime, not look tough on TV. This year, the voters won’t get fooled again by Jim Reams and Reams Team. If you elect me Rockingham County attorney this November, you have my word as a marine that I will give this county the county attorney’s office you deserve.

Thanks and I’ll be happy to take a couple of questions.


NOTE: Jim Reams staff, according to the AG's complaint for removal, referred to Reams as "Creepy Uncle Jim."