Northern New York Newspapers
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Tue., Sep. 1
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Core of the problem


If people needed more evidence that the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office has been mismanaged, here it is.

Judge Stanley H. Young Jr. from the Gouverneur Town Court was compelled to adjourn at least 13 cases Nov. 7 because there was no prosecutor to handle them. Personnel in the Town Court were previously notified that Assistant District Attorney James L. Monroe would not be available to attend the proceedings on that date, said Court Clerk Lauri A. Andrews. So Judge Young called the DA’s office and requested that a replacement prosecutor be sent, Ms. Andrews said.

But then no one from the DA’s office showed up. And now District Attorney Nicole M. Duve is claiming no one made her aware that there was any problem here.

“If there was a problem with the coverage in Gouverneur Court, nobody took the time to bring it to my attention. So I am unaware of it, and as far as I am concerned it didn’t happen,” Ms. Duve said in an article published in Friday’s issue of the Watertown Daily Times. “All I can say is that the ADAs are pulled in a lot of directions, and they do the best they can to cover the courts that they are assigned to. And sometimes they are assigned to be in more than one place at a time and there is nothing we can do about it.”

As she pointed out during her unsuccessful re-election campaign, Ms. Duve is correct that her office is woefully understaffed. She also is correct that this means court appearances are bound not to be covered from time to time.

But what speaks directly to the problem here is this comment by Ms. Duve: “… as far as I am concerned it didn’t happen.”

Yes, it did happen, according to Gouverneur Town Court personnel. Like other DA issues causing headaches for people in St. Lawrence County’s criminal justice system, Ms. Duve just pretends this situation doesn’t exist. Rather than taking responsibility for the problem, she chooses to look the other way and declares that she doesn’t see anything wrong going on.

How in the world could the district attorney not be aware of the persistent absence of her prosecutors from local courts? How could Ms. Duve be oblivious to what’s occurring right under her nose?

This isn’t the first time that she has claimed not to have been made aware of some problem. In contrast, different people have said that they’ve raised various issues with her personally to no avail. They say that they’ve wrangled with her about coming up with a solution; she says she’s in the dark about such matters.

Here is one area where Mary E. Rain will have to hit the ground running. She defeated Ms. Duve for the district attorney’s race earlier this month, and she needs to have a game plan for how to address these issues.

Ms. Rain’s management style in the district attorney’s office must match the take-no-prisoners approach with which she ran her campaign. She needs to get on top of these problems right away and develop a strategy for correcting them, or it’s going to be another long four years until the next election.

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