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March 9, 2012 - 7:00pm

Colleagues agree, it will take a humble, hard-working attorney with a big intellect to replace David Gann in DA's office

posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, District Attorney's Office, David Gann.

In retirement, David Gann still worries about how technology will change law enforcement.

"When I started, an IBM Selectric (typewriter) was state-of-the-art technology and copy machines were still brand-new," Gann said. "Now, pretty soon, we won't have paper files any more. It's interesting to see the transformation going on, but we don't know if we will be able to access these files in 50 years. We still have files in MS-DOS and we don't know how much longer we can access those."

Former colleague Bob Zickl said in a letter recommending Gann for a major award that Gann could always talk "matter of factly about the next great technical or financial catastrophe."

The predilection to fret about looming technical difficulties is only one of the qualities of the former first assistant district attorney that enamored Gann to his colleagues.

He retired from the District Attorney's Office at the end of 2011, voluntarily giving up his position so that nobody else in the office would lose a job to satisfy the county's budget ax.

With his retirement came a statewide award from District Attorney's Association, the Robert M. Morgenthau Award, given to an assistant of the highest professional standards.

It's the first time an attorney from Genesee County received the fairly new honor.

"The greatest honor was just being nominated," Gann said. "To have my professional colleagues recommend me for such an award means a lot to me."

Besides ADA Zickl, backing Gann's nomination was District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, Genesee County Court Judge (and former District Attorney) Robert Noonan, Sheriff Gary Maha, Batavia Det. Charles Dudek and Le Roy Police Det. John Condidorio.

Gann's supporters praised his work ethic, his encyclopedic knowledge of criminal statutes and case law, his even temper (Zickl said he never once heard Gann utter a profanity in 27 years of working together), his ethics and adherence to the law and his desire to see justice done.

Besides handling all felony drug cases, Gann was the DNA expert in the office and handled the DNA portion of all murder trials from January 1997 through March 2010.

The drug work, Gann said was particularly important.

"I don't think we will ever totally eliminate drugs from the community," Gann said. "What we tried to do was make sure the guys who came out here to deal to think twice before doing it. We wanted to chase them inside so they would only deal with people they knew, so they wouldn't feel comfortable with people outside and stay off of street corners."

Condidorio praised Gann's work in helping investigators make cases against drug dealers.

"(Gann has) made a tremendous impact on Genesee County, taking significant drug dealers off the street and making it more difficult for them to spread their poisons to our youth and underprivileged," Condidorio wrote.

Noonan wrote a mock "help wanted" ad as part of his recommendation that demonstrated what big shoes the DA's office will need to fill if there's ever money in the budget to replace Gann.

Among the qualifications -- more than 30 years experience in New York's criminal justice system, scores of grand jury presentations and hundreds of briefs responding to appeals.

The candidate must also have the personal strength to deal with strong-willed police officers dealing with stressful searches in order to guide them toward the proper procedures.

"It is essential that this individual have the personal self-confidence to never gloat about an intellect that exceeds coworkers, lawyers and judges," Noonan wrote.

With the award won and no cases on the court docket, Gann's days and nights are no longer spent fretting over the proper wording of a search warrant application.

He's busy helping out with Friday fish fries at St. James Episcopal Church in Batavia, or reading, or getting out to community events with his wife, Marcia.

The Ganns have no plans to leave Genesee County.

"In Batavia, a small town, everything is smaller scale," Gann said. "You tend to know everybody and that makes it more rewarding to get involved. It's part of what makes Batavia, Batavia."

Gann's biggest plan for retirement is to do more things with Marcia.

"I have a wonderful wife and I enjoy being around her," Gann said. "That's my number-one priority."

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