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Nissen, Becker to leave St. Lawrence County DA’s office

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CANTON — Two prosecutors, including the chief assistant who recently finished prosecuting a murder trial, are leaving the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s office.

Chief Assistant Amanda N. Nissen said she is taking a position with the state police counsel’s office in Albany. Assistant District Attorney Jonathan L. Becker said he will move to Otsego County to start a private practice.

“John and Amanda are good folks. I’m sorry to see them go. I wish them well in their future endeavors,” said District Attorney Nicole M. Duvé on Wednesday.

Ms. Nissen, who has been with the office for three and a half years, said her last day will be Friday or Monday. Mr. Becker, who joined the staff in 2009, said he expects to depart by the month’s end.

Ms. Nissen served as the prosecutor in the recent second-degree murder trial of three Ogdensburg men. That case ended Tuesday with the conviction of one defendant, Anthony W. Lalonde, and the acquittal of Michael S. Thorpe and Michael D. Durand in the 2010 death of Ralph E. “Gene” Lawton, 83, Ogdensburg.

Ms. Duvé said she had known of Ms. Nissen’s impending departure for some time, but thought it best not to make the news public until the trial was finished.

The DA praised Ms. Nissen as someone who will be difficult to replace. Mr. Becker has “done a fantastic job” handling appeals cases for the office, Ms. Duvé said, and will be missed for his research skills and willingness to assist other assistant district attorneys.

Ms. Nissen said the switch is not just a career move, but will bring her closer to her family and her roots in the Saratoga County area. Mr. Becker said he has enjoyed the work he has done in St. Lawrence County, but the move will let him live closer to his girlfriend, who moved to Otsego County about six months ago.

“Working for Nicole has been absolutely fantastic,” Ms. Nissen said.

She and Mr. Becker also said the volume of work has been substantial.

“It’s a difficult county to be a prosecutor in because the caseloads are enormous,” Ms. Nissen said.

Mr. Becker agreed, calling the workload “overwhelming.”

“I’ve had to make a number of sacrifices just to keep up with my work,” Mr. Becker said.

Ms. Duvé, who supervises seven other attorneys, said her office opens about 4,300 cases each year.

“Our workload is double, at least, what it is in most prosecutors’ offices,” she said.

Ms. Duvé said she already has reached out to potential candidates for the openings and plans to meet with county Administrator Karen M. St. Hilaire today to discuss the hiring process.

Board of Legislators Chairman Jonathan S. Putney, D-Waddington, did not foresee problems filling the vacancies.

“Traditionally, yes, when there’s a vacancy in the DA’s office, we fill those positions,” he said. “We don’t want to interfere with the running of the criminal justice system.”

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