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June 28, 2014

DA Champagne to seek judge seat

MALONE — District Attorney Derek Champagne is seeking election as the new Family Court judge in Franklin County.

The new position is one of 20 new judgeships created by the State Legislature last week and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday.

Champagne, 44, has been with the District Attorney’s office for nearly 17 years, more than 13 of them as the DA.

He took office in January 2002 and was elected to a fresh four-year term this past November.

A nominating committee made up of Republicans, Democrats and Independents will circulate petitions between July 11 and 24 to collect the needed 350 signatures to place Champagne’s name on the November ballot.

“I think it’s a natural progression to transition into Family Court, and I would be honored and humbled if elected,” he said.

“It is an area I’ve had great interest in, and from talking with the administrative law judge, the person elected would help out in the other courts or preside over cases in other counties, so it wouldn’t be 100 percent Family Court in Franklin County.”

The DA said he has been directly involved in prosecuting 15,000 cases in Franklin County, among them murders, attempted murder, rapes, serious assaults and narcotics.

And it became important for him to become a judge, he said, after a recent report generated in his office looked at the violent and serious offenders who kept coming into the criminal justice system.

“We saw (that) a number of the offenders — and it was a high percentage — had previously been involved in youthful-offender adjudication or had been persons-in-need-of-supervision as part of Family Court,” he said.

After seeing the success of the county’s Domestic Violence Court and other programs tailored toward adults, Champagne said the next logical step is to transfer that kind of positive outcome to younger offenders.

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