By Stephen Lee firstname.lastname@example.org Nov 21, 2017
U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler will practice law in Fort Pierre after he leaves office as South Dakota’s top federal prosecutor on Dec. 31, he announced on Monday.
Seiler, 71, said he’s retiring after 20 years working as a federal prosecutor in the state and being U.S. attorney since March 2015.
It will bring to a close a long career of public service, beginning with Seiler’s four years in the Air Force in the late 1960s, including a tour of duty in Vietnam.
He’s served on school boards and city councils and as a county prosecutor and a state employee before he began as a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in 1995.
“Serving the United States and the people of South Dakota as U.S. attorney has been the highest honor and the most fulfilling duty of my public service and my time as a lawyer,” Seiler told the Capital Journal on Monday. “Without a doubt it’s been the best job I’ve ever had.”
Born in Mobridge in 1946, Seiler grew up in Herreid, went to school at SDSU and the University of Nebraska-Omaha, before graduating from law school at USD in 1980.
He was a partner in a Mobridge law firm until 1995, also working as a tribal judge and as a deputy state’s attorney for Campbell County.
When U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson stepped down in the spring of 2015, Seiler was his top assistant and was named acting and interim U.S. attorney. President Barack Obama nominated him to the position in October 2015 and a federal judge appointed him in early 2016.
President Donald Trump in July nominated Sioux Falls attorney Ron Parsons to replace Seiler, who is a Democrat. In September, Trump sent the names of several of his U.S. attorney nominees, including Parsons, to the Senate for confirmation.
Seiler said Monday he plans to leave office ‘on my own terms,” and will work right up to the last day, when his term in office will cease “at midnight on Dec. 31.”
“The opportunity to serve with the dedicated men and women of the U.S. attorney’s office has been the privilege of a lifetime,” he said on Monday. “They bring incredible heart, intellect and passion to the cause of justice in South Dakota.”
He said the caseload of the office has increased, with the number of cases filed and defendants charged each increasing by about 200 over the past three years.
Seiler attributed the increase to the dedicated work of his staff and better communication throughout the justice system.
He pointed to “a continuation of an implementation of a community prosecution strategy across South Dakota, in terms of our prosecutors are out in the communities in Indian Country, meeting with state and local and tribal law enforcement officials. The result is there is more coordination and more commitment and more consultation as to what cases should go federal.”
Because the U.S. Department of Justice has primary jurisdiction for American Indian reservations and tribes, much of the work of the U.S. attorney in South Dakota, which has nine Indian reservations, involves tribal governments and members.
That was a key part of Seiler’s work as a longtime prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office. In 2009, he was the first recipient of the Justice Department’s Director’s Award for Superior Performance in Indian Country, according to a news release. He’s given presentations and training nationwide on criminal justice issues, including on the prosecution of violent crime in Indian Country.
The highlights of his work include, he says, extending the outreach in Indian Country by holding “community listening sessions,” meeting with tribal leaders regularly.
He created “Walk-in Wednesday,” putting a U.S. attorney’s office representative on Pine Ridge each week to allow citizens “to more easily communicate with the office concerning crime on the reservation.”
He also revised management in the U.S. attorney’s office to facilitate the hiring of more women and minorities, according to the news release announcing his retirement.
His wife, Wanda, travels often as a consultant on health care administration, Seiler said. They plan to continue living in Fort Pierre where they have had a home since 1995. He served a short time on the city council until he was nominated by Obama.
“I love that community,” he said. “So to work with the dedicated folks there to make a difference for our hometown is going to be a part of my focus going forward.”
In coming weeks he will hold open houses in the U.S. attorney offices around the state and hold a public reception Dec. 29 in the AmericInn in Fort Pierre, Seiler said.