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Native Sun News Today: Trump prosecutor purge fails to affect South Dakota

Randolph Seiler will continue to serve as the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota even after the Trump administration ordered other Obama holdovers to resign. Photo: Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney for South Dakota to remain
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk
Native Sun News Today
Managing Editor

WASHIGTON –– The new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions abruptly ousted 46 remaining U.S. Attorneys appointed by President Barack Obama, but the U.S. Attorney of the District of South Dakota was not among those forced to leave his post.

Randolph John ‘Randy’ Seiler a native of Herreid, South Dakota, was nominated as the 41st United States Attorney for the District of South Dakota by President Barack Obama after Brendon Johnson resigned in 2015. Johnson, the son of former South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson, resigned to join the Minneapolis based law firm Robins Kaplan.

According to the Justice Department Seiler’s nomination had been sent to the U.S. Senate for confirmation, but it was not acted upon in the allotted timeframe. A Federal statute provides the U.S. District Court the authority to appoint a U. S. Attorney. Subsequently, Chief Judge Jeffrey L. Viken, U.S. District Court, ordered Randolph J. Seiler as the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota, effective February 5, 2016. Statutorily, Seiler can remain in his position until it is filled by the new administration. Seiler, who was sworn in by U.S. District Judge Roberto Lange at a ceremony at the U.S. Courthouse in Pierre, has been with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for more than 20 years.

Throughout his career Seiler has served as both Acting and Interim U.S. Attorney and also as the First Assistant United States Attorney and the Tribal Liaison for the District of South Dakota.

The current Tribal Liaison for the District of South Dakota is Troy Morley, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.

U.S. Attorney Randoph Seiler discusses the tribal provisions of the Violence Against Women Act at a conference in March 2015. Photo: Native Women's Society of the Great Plains

According to the Justice Department Seiler was responsible for the day-to-day management and operation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He supervised the U.S. Attorney’s branch office in Pierre, where he was directly involved in prosecutorial matters and decisions. As Tribal Liaison, he consulted and coordinated with tribal justice officials and leaders, tribal communities, and victim advocates in an effort to address any issues in the prosecution of major crimes in Indian country in South Dakota.

South Dakota has within its borders nine Indian Reservations where the majority of major crimes committed by Tribal members on Indian reservations are prosecuted through the U.S. Attorney’s Office as Federal crimes. Native Americans convicted of Federal Crimes serve their sentences at various Federal facilities throughout the U.S. According to the Justice Department, 50 to 60 percent of the caseload for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is comprised of Indian country offenses

The Justice Department reports that Seiler’s career as an Assistant U.S. Attorney includes 14 years of prosecuting violent crime offenses. In 2001, he received the Department of Justice Attorney General’s Award for Fraud Prevention. In 2009, he became the first recipient of the U.S. Attorney Director’s Award for Superior Performance in Indian Country. Mr. Seiler also served as counsel to the Director in the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., in 2000. He has been an instructor at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, SC, as well as a presenter at numerous conferences and trainings on various topics including violent crime, sexual assault, domestic violence, and legal issues in the prosecution of violent crime in Indian Country.

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