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The St. Lawrence County Courthouse, built in 1893. Photo: Mark Kurtz
The St. Lawrence County Courthouse, built in 1893. Photo: Mark Kurtz

St. Lawrence County DA disputes call for special prosecutor

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St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain says she'll defend what she calls her obligation to conduct a grand jury probe into use of county money.

Her comments come after a state judge appeared to put the probe on hold while he determines whether a special prosecutor should replace her.

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Reported by

David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

St. Lawrence County Administrator Karen St. Hilaire asked the courts last week to appoint a special prosecutor to replace District Attorney Mary Rain in her two grand jury probes.

One involves why county employees failed to apply for a once-routine $500,000 dollar grant to fund two victims advocates for five years.

St. Hilaire said the grant is for the DA’s office, so she argued Rain couldn’t be impartial.

In an order dated July 10th, state administrative judge Vito Caruso stayed any grand jury proceedings in the cases. And he asked DA Mary Rain to make a case why a special prosecutor not be appointed.

Rain says she’ll tell the judge the law insists she move forward. "There have been times when agencies have attempted to apply for a special district attorney and when the district attorney themselves had asked to be relieved of their duties," Rain says, "and the court has been clear, you cannot do that. You are constitutionally bound to do your job, and to release your powers to someone else is a violation of the law."

The judge’s order does not reference the second probe Rain has launched, an inquiry into $12,000 spent on a microphone system for the county legislative chambers. Yet that issue is the one that’s the subject of the subpoenas Rain has sent out so far.

A clerk said Judge Caruso was on vacation and not available to clarify the matter. The order sets a deadline for Mary Rain’s response by July 24th.

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