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Challenger slams prosecutor at Potsdam campaign rally


POTSDAM - The challenger in St. Lawrence County’s district attorney’s race launched her “Accountability Tour” Thursday evening in Potsdam, and began it with a bang.

In her news conference outside of the Potsdam Civic Center, Ms. Rain spoke in front of half a dozen supporters sporting campaign signs.

Republican candidate Mary E. Rain charged incumbent St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole M. Duve had made “hundreds of mistakes”during her tenure as the county’s lead prosecutor. She displayed a heavy book she said was filled with cases that had been dismissed during Ms. Duve’s eight-year tenure as district attorney. “If you’d had enough, vote Rain,” she said.

“(Duve) has let go so many felony offenders that it affects justice here in St. Lawrence County, and it’s one of the big reasons that I’m running. Had enough? I’ve had enough. That’s why I’m running and that’s why I have supporters here today,” Ms. Rain said.

“We had a case here in Potsdam where a young lady was raped. The criminal was charged with rape in the first-degree, it’s a B violent felony. That person could have faced up to 25 years in state prison. It was plea bargained down to a misdemeanor, a misdemeanor where the man got a $250 fine. There’s something wrong with that picture.”

Ms. Rain also spoke of a rape case where the victim was 14 years old, and Ms. Duve filed a motion to concur with the defense’s motion seeking to dismiss the charges. She added that the incumbent claimed that police had not given her the paperwork, while police had proof of providing paperwork to her.

It marked Ms. Rain’s second full fledged assault on the incumbent’s record in the past two weeks. Speaking on the front steps of the St. Lawrence County Courthouse last week, she charged Ms. Duve’s incompetence, ineffectiveness and disorganization in her office had created an opportunity for violent felony offenders to walk the streets without any consequences.

Ms. Rain said last week 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.

Ms. Rain’s news conference in Potsdam Thursday night drew the attention of Stephen M. Whelley. Mr. Whelley is the father of Donald James Ware Whelley, a 21-year-old Clarkson University sophomore lacrosse player who was allegedly brutally attacked by two men in the early morning hours of Aug. 24.

“My biggest concern is that as this thing moves forward, my case in particular, I just noticed the lack of resources and not that it’s been a lack of activity, but resources, which is a common theme in a lot of counties, that hampers the position,” Mr. Whelley said.

He stressed his attendance at the event was not an endorsement. “I’m more concerned, as you (Rain) are, to discourage violence, and I want hear what you have to say about it. Again, I’m not voting one way or the other, but I have a great deal of respect for the position you seek,” he told the district attorney candidate.

Ms. Rain has said she has three decades of experience as a police officer, prosecutor and defense attorney. She also served briefly as St. Lawrence County’s chief public defender four years ago.

As the challenger talked to supporters and others, she clutched a large book filled with paperwork from dismissed cases that she claims were not handled properly.

“This book is her book of shame. These are cases that have been dismissed that have been reported to you. But I have a bigger notebook of all the cases that have been dismissed via motions because of speedy trial issues where she’s failed to prosecute. Where she has gotten dismissals because of bad grand jury indictments,” Ms. Rain said.

“Again, grand jury is such an easy way for a prosecutor to get an indictment, and she has failed hundreds of times. In over 10 years of prosecutorial experience, I have had zero indictments dismissed. It’s a rarity, but not in this office.”

In response, Ms. Duve said that her opponent was “making broad accusations without having facts. Hundreds of times sounds very exaggerated. Without specifics, her words are meaningless,” she added.

Ms. Rain said that she plans to visit every region in the county during her tour, discussing relevant cases with the public. She plans to “highlight the injustices that have occurred.”

When asked about the proposition of a debate, Ms. Rain said she would “love to,” while Ms. Duve said she would “have no problem with it.”

Voting for the district attorney position will take place on Nov. 5.

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