North Dakota Law

Updates from the University of North Dakota School of Law.

Jennifer Puhl ’00 named interim US attorney for North Dakota

Veteran federal prosecutor has been sworn in as the interim U.S. attorney for North Dakota.

Jennifer Puhl took the oath of office Friday in Fargo. She is the first woman to hold the position of U.S. attorney in North Dakota.

Puhl said she steps into the office “with sincere appreciation and honor,” adding that she has a high regard for the U.S. attorneys and interim U.S. attorneys who have held the spot before her.

“I’m a placeholder,” Puhl said. “It’s our job to run this office until the (presidential) administration gets a U.S. attorney in place.”

Puhl started her duties Monday. She replaces Nicholas Chase, who was recently appointed to a state judgeship by Gov. Doug Burgum. Chase had been tabbed to lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office in February 2021 after then-U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley resigned, a move that typically follows a change in the presidential administration. President Joe Biden has not named a U.S. attorney for the North Dakota District.
Puhl, from Devils Lake, holds a law degree from the University of North Dakota. She served as a law clerk at the North Dakota Supreme Court and worked for a year in a private firm in Minneapolis. She has prosecuted cases as an assistant U.S. attorney under Wrigley, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, and Timothy Purdon, an appointee of President Barack Obama.

Wrigley, who is now attorney general for North Dakota, hired Puhl in 2002. He said the U.S. Attorney’s Office is in “very capable hands” with Puhl at the helm. He appointed her to the role of criminal chief in 2019.

“She’s remarkably intelligent and courageous, fearless in her ethical application of her skills,” Wrigley said. “She’s a gifted and hardworking person.”

Puhl said that even after 20 years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office she’s still “amazed by the commitment” of the employees. She hopes to continue progress in what she called a long tradition of prosecuting violent crimes in Indian Country, civil rights violations, internet crimes and drug trafficking.

“I believe I work alongside the most talented group of attorneys in the state,” Puhl said. “They’re committed to the pursuit of justice.”