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Challenger Rain comes down hard on St. Lawrence County DA Duve

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CANTON — Mary E. Rain, the Republican candidate for St. Lawrence County district attorney, opened fire on incumbent Nicole M. Duve in a news conference Wednesday afternoon announcing a three-point plan for how she plans to improve the office if elected.

Ms. Rain criticized Ms. Duve’s tenure as ineffective.

Speaking on the front steps of the St. Lawrence County Courthouse, she said that when she became the county’s chief public defender four years ago, “I found my opponent’s incompetence, ineffectiveness and disorganization in her office created an opportunity for violent felony offenders to walk our streets without any consequence.”

Ms. Duve did not return calls seeking comment.

Ms. Rain said she wants to fast-track felonies, upgrade technology to improve results and improve inter-agency cooperation. She said she would ensure timely prosecutions by seeking the earliest possible court proceeding for all felony crimes, which she called the biggest problem of Ms. Duve’s administration.

“Felonies languish in her office and they get dismissed before they even get out of the courtroom,” Ms. Rain said. “We need to put these felonies on a fast track where the witness’s and police officer’s memories are fresh and the victims are able to explain their story in court effectively.”

In order to help upgrade technology in the office, Ms. Rain said she would work to create a “secure digital pipeline,” instead of a paper trail, among police, the courts and the D.A.’s office.

“She loses paperwork and then blames it on the police,” Ms. Rain said. “We need a better technology base to make sure that everyone is on the same page.”

In an attempt to improve interagency relations, Ms. Rain said she wants accountability and plans to lead a coalition of government agencies and community-based groups to reduce criminal activity by holding regular meetings with law enforcement leadership.

Ms. Rain was supported by the family members of Garrett J. Phillips, the 12-year-old Potsdam boy who was murdered in 2011 and whose killer remains at large.

Tandy L. Cyrus, Garrett’s mother, and Joseph Paul, Garrett’s maternal grandfather, said that since Garrett’s murder 23 months ago they have been seeking justice.

If there is evidence that could get a suspect indicted by a grand jury, Ms. Cyrus said, she hopes it is not being used as a campaign ploy.

“I don’t want her to go to a grand jury if it won’t result in a conviction,” Ms. Cyrus said. “We only have one chance and, as a family, we want justice.”

Mr. Paul said they were supportive of Ms. Rain because she appeared “competent and determined” and has given their family more hope.

Ms. Rain’s resignation as public defender in October 2011 has raised questions about her prosecutorial capabilities. She said it was the overwhelming workload that persuaded her to leave the position, adding that she felt she could do a more effective job in private practice with flexible hours.

Ms. Rain went on paid administrative leave in September 2011 at the same time the county was reviewing a position change made in March of that year that stripped her of the operational oversight of her office.

During Wednesday’s news conference, Ms. Rain said she left the office because she had “full knowledge” that she was going to run for district attorney.

“She has had dismissal after dismissal,” Ms. Rain said of Ms. Duve. “She wants to blame everyone else but herself. She has had eight years to get it right, and she has continued to decline in her effectiveness to keep people behind bars, and that has to change.”


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