Three run to succeed Franklin County Judge Main
Three candidates have thrown their names in the hat to be the next Franklin County Court judge when incumbent Robert G. Main Jr. retires this year.
County District Attorney Craig Carriero, a Democrat; Principal Court Attorney Elizabeth Crawford, a Republican; and private practice attorney Peter Dumas, a Republican, recently announced their intentions to run this fall.
Petition-gathering begins March 2. The winner of the race would be elected to a 10-year term.
Carriero, 44, earned his bachelor’s degree from Hartwick College and his law degree from Albany Law School of Union University.
He then worked in the energy law department of Albany-based firm Couch White LLP prior to when he and his wife, Ginger Cantwell Carriero, moved to her native Malone, according to a news release.
From 2004 to 2015, Carriero served as assistant Franklin County district attorney, where he handled thousands of cases ranging from simple misdemeanors to violent crimes including burglaries, sexual assaults and homicides.
During that time, he also practiced with his father-in-law, Paul M. Cantwell Jr., of Cantwell & Cantwell. His private practice focused mostly on real estate, trusts and estates, municipal law and small business/corporate matters.
In 2015, Carriero was elected Franklin County district attorney, and has continuously served in that position due to his unopposed re-election in 2019.
“I think that background … has given me a wide breadth of experience that gives me the necessary background and qualifications to be the next Franklin County Court judge,” he told The Press-Republican.
Carriero believes his office has met the challenges presented by the state’s newer bail and discovery reform laws, and has secured strong sentences for persistent felony offenders.
He and his wife have two sons, Trent and Chase.
Crawford, 44, earned her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Plattsburgh and her law degree from West Virginia University College of Law.
From 2004 to 2014, she served as assistant Franklin County district attorney, successfully prosecuting thousands of cases which included murders, rapes, assaults and narcotics, according to a news release.
While an ADA, Crawford was assigned to the Franklin County Domestic Violence Task Force and the Franklin County Northern Border and Narcotics Task Force.
Through the former, she developed expertise in prosecuting crimes against children and domestic violence within families, and pioneered the use of expert witnesses in the county to prosecute these types of cases, the release said.
As part of the latter, she helped organize large-scale drug apprehensions by obtaining wiretap warrants and providing legal guidance to officers pursuing violent offenders and large-scale drug dealers.
In 2015, Crawford was appointed a court attorney for the Unified Court System, and two years later was promoted to principal court attorney.
She now serves as County Family Court Judge Derek Champagne’s attorney, assisting him and other judges with research and case evaluations.
“I am fully familiar with the judge’s mindset, how to be fair and impartial,” Crawford said. “I’ve been doing that the last five years and plan to continue doing that if elected.”
Crawford, a lifelong resident of the North Country, and her husband, Michael, have two children, Ainsley and Drew.
Dumas, 53, earned his bachelor’s degree from SUNY Oswego and his law degree from Pace Law School.
Following graduation, he returned to Malone and started practicing law, focusing on criminal defense and personal injury practice at the Law Office of John A. Piasecki, Esq.
In 2006, he opened his own practice and has remained in private practice ever since, primarily within criminal defense and family court work, according to a press release.
He also works as the lead attorney for the Franklin County Department of Social Services.
Dumas touted his 21 years of experience, which has brought him in front of judges from one end of the state to the other, as well as good, respectful relationships with law enforcement even while representing the defense.
He pointed to high-profile cases he has had in the North Country, including the acquittal of Nick Hillary in the murder of Garrett Phillips, about which an HBO documentary was made.
“I’m not someone who has kind of come up within the courthouse,” Dumas said. “I’m somebody who’s always been in private practice and I think it offers a fresh perspective.”
He and his wife, Deanna, have four children, Samuel, Simon, Elizabeth and Sebastien.
As candidates for judicial office, the three have to be careful not to speak explicitly on how they would rule in particular cases or areas of law from the bench.
Regarding racial justice and bias, and how he would strive to ensure fairness and equity in the courtroom, Carriero said he did not think he could go into it that much, but said that would entail handling each case with integrity.
“As a DA, I don’t think we’ve taken race into account when looking at pleas. When we’ve looked at a case, we’ve valued it on its merits and tried to apply that fairly across the board.”
Dumas said he believes that goes back to the concept of how justice is supposed to be blind.
“You’ve got to treat everybody the same; otherwise it’s not justice at all.”
On the topic of drug addiction in Franklin County, Carriero pointed to how his office has handled such cases, making the distinction between defendants looking to fuel a habit and those behind distribution.
“Those that are truly just trying to support a habit, we try to look at the treatment option in drug court. Those trying to make a profit, we come down harder on.”
Crawford said she was familiar with the issue both due to her experience while ADA on the Franklin County Northern Border and Narcotics Task Force, as well as working for Champagne, who sits on treatment court.
Dumas said each case has to be looked at carefully from all aspects, and as judge you have to look at both protecting the community and rehabilitation for defendants.
Taking that time to review, research and reflect on each case is something Dumas said he would take with him from Main’s tenure on the bench.
“I can only hope that I can preside the way he does. He’s been a wonderful teacher over the years, in Family Court and County Court.”
Though he has not always agreed with the retiring judge, he knows that there is a logical reason behind each of Main’s decisions as well as a sense of fairness.
Crawford described Main as very detail-oriented.
“He holds people accountable, he expects people to be prepared. I would carry that on. I’ve worked with a number of other judges and I’m planning on bringing a little bit from each.”
All three candidates indicated they will likely seek out other party lines and anticipate a clean campaign.
“I have spoken with both Peter and Craig,” Crawford said. ‘We’re small town, we all have to work together at the end of day and we are going to keep it clean.”