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St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole Duvé speaks to the press Wednesday in the Grand Jury room in the county courthouse building in Canton. Photo: David Sommerstein.
St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole Duvé speaks to the press Wednesday in the Grand Jury room in the county courthouse building in Canton. Photo: David Sommerstein.

Duve fights back against DA challenger

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St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole Duve defended her record yesterday from attacks by her Republican challenger.

Duvé, a Democrat, said former public defender Mary Rain was "misrepresenting" the results of cases. And she said Rain was misunderstanding the subtleties of prosecution.

David Sommerstein reports.

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Republican Mary Rain has run an aggressive campaign from the get-go. She’s appeared across St. Lawrence County with family members of murder victims whose alleged killers have not been convicted. She’s accused Duvé of too many felony reductions and dismissed cases.

District Attorney Nicole Duve invited the media to the courthouse to dispel what she called “distortions”. And she said involving crime victims in a political campaign is “unfortunate and disheartening”.

When you sit in the Monday morning quarterback chair, you can certainly have a strong opinion of what you read in the paper. But what you read in the paper isn’t always what you need to know about a case in order to make an informed judgement.

Duvé defended seeking plea bargains, saying particularly in rape, sexual assault and domestic violence cases, a conviction may not be the preferred outcome.

To say that a trial is the end all be all and a trial conviction is the end-all be-all isn’t necessarily true. There can be fallout after a trial as well because you don’t hear the defendant say, yup, I did it, yup, the victim was right. We get our conviction in another manner.

Duvé is seeking a third term as St. Lawrence County district attorney at a time when the office is under financial pressure and a backlog of cases. Duvé has struggled to retain assistant DAs, she says, due to low pay and the isolated location. She says she has eight attorneys to handle 8,000 pending cases.

There are days when I need half of my staff – four attorneys – just to cover everything that’s going on in this building alone, and that has nothing to do with anything that’s going on in the 36 or so town and village courts that are spread throughout the county.

Republican Mary Rain blames Duvé for the backlog, saying she’s “disorganized” and “ineffective”.

The District Attorney race is St. Lawrence County’s biggest county-wide campaign. It’ll be the focus of politics here up to Election Day.

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