MALONE — Derek Champagne was suspicious when he was urged to bring his children to the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York conference.
“That’s when I knew something was up,” laughed the Franklin County DA just days after being named the association’s Prosecutor of the Year at its annual summer meeting.
He has been district attorney since 2002 and was named by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this month to serve on the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption with the powers of a deputy attorney general.
According to a news release making the announcement, the annual association award is given to a prosecutor “who exemplifies strong leadership, is responsible for innovative programs and thereby enhances criminal justice throughout the state.”
“I’m honored and humbled,” he said of the award, presented by its incoming president, Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, and Susan Valle, executive director of the New York Prosecutors Training Institute.
“These are people who work hard every day and are doing tremendous things, people who have been working as prosecutors 20, 30, 40 years, and to be honored by them is very humbling,” Champagne said.
And his being a prosecutor from one of the state’s most rural counties with few assistant district attorneys on staff “means we’re recognized that when we stand up in court and say ‘we represent the people of the State of New York,’ we mean it, whether it’s an office with 400 ADAs or an office with four or five.”
His office has drawn upon association members’ expertise and experience in past criminal cases, seeking advice on how a prosecution can come together.
“And now I get called for advice, and that’s a different feeling from 10 years ago,” he said.
Champagne is a past president and member of the Board of Directors of the association, vice chair of the New York State Sentencing Commission, Counsel to the Law Enforcement Council, leads the Franklin County Narcotics and Border Task Force and is a special assistant United States attorney for the Northern District.
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