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St. Lawrence County DA’s race begins as Rain, Duvé announce runs

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CANTON — Eight months before Election Day, the race for St. Lawrence County’s top prosecutor is under way.

Former St. Lawrence County Public Defender Mary E. Rain, a Republican, confirmed Tuesday she plans to run for the post against two-term Democratic incumbent Nicole M. Duvé, who told the Times she “absolutely” plans to seek a third term.

Meanwhile, a third contender on the GOP side is mulling a run, said county Republican Chairman Thomas L. Jenison. He declined to identify the individual, saying only that the prospective candidate is a St. Lawrence County resident.

“I’m still waiting to find out if that person is interested in running,” Mr. Jenison said, adding public confirmation of Ms. Rain’s intentions earlier than expected could put some pressure on that Republican to make a decision.

Ms. Rain plans to make a public announcement at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at The Place, 1612 Ford St., Ogdensburg. Word began to spread sooner after she sent out invitations to the event on Facebook.

Ms. Duvé said she has not made plans for a public event to announce her re-election bid.

“Nicole is the DA now, and hopefully she will be after November,” said county Democratic Party Chairman Mark J. Bellardini.

Mr. Bellardini said he really has no idea whether other Democrats might be interested in the post.

“We have a DA right now. Other than that, that’s all I can say.”

Ms. Duvé, 47, is a graduate of SUNY Potsdam and Albany Law School of Union University. She has practiced law since 1991 and has worked as an assistant district attorney and assistant public defender as well as court attorney for Franklin County Judge Robert G. Main Jr., Malone.

She was a Potsdam town justice from November 1998 until 2005, when she resigned to run for district attorney.

Ms. Rain, 50, is a graduate of SUNY Oswego and the Dickinson School of Law of Pennsylvania State University. She has worked as a police officer and an assistant district attorney in Oswego, Monroe, Cortland and Jefferson counties and has maintained a private practice.

Ms. Rain was St. Lawrence County’s chief public defender from June 2009 to October 2011, when she resigned, saying she had been “treading water” amid a heavy workload.

She went on paid administrative leave in September 2009 at the same time the county was reviewing a position change made in March that stripped her of the operational oversight of her office.

The former public defender said Tuesday her departure resulted from her different vision for the office than county legislators, but the split was not rancorous.

Ms. Rain said her legal and law enforcement background suits her well for the district attorney’s office. She also said local law enforcement officials and officers have encouraged her to run for the job — although she declined to provide names — and many of them think, as she does, that Ms. Duvé’s office has not been as cooperative with police agencies as it should be.

“They don’t have a working relationship with the DA’s office, which is a foreign concept to me,” said Ms. Rain, who stressed the importance of proper training for law enforcement agencies on legal issues, as well as the importance of the DA’s staff being present at scenes when needed.

Ms. Duvé disagreed that her office has not cooperated with police.

“I have an open-door policy with law enforcement,” she said.

She added she has had such a policy since she was first elected.

“I don’t know what contingent of law enforcement she may be referring to, but I am personally not aware of anyone who that might be.”

As well, Ms. Duvé said her staff has “always been available to attend” any crime scene, and she has been present for several homicide investigations.

Ms. Rain criticized Ms. Duvé and her staff for a record of letting cases be dismissed because of speedy trial law violations and faulty presentations before grand juries as well as other procedural mistakes because of staffers who may lack proper training.

She suggested Ms. Duvé’s office seems to suffer from more of such issues than departments in other, comparably sized counties.

Ms. Duvé said she would not respond to ”broad-stroke accusations” without details about specific cases to which Ms. Rain might be referring.

“I would have to know what in particular she is talking about,” she replied. “Every matter is different.”

She praised her staff of seven as “hard-working, extremely dedicated people.”

“I don’t think any prosecutor’s office is immune from stresses related to a lack of resources,” she said.

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