Jennifer Puhl seeks confirmation to serve on 8th Circuit Court of Appeals

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal

Special to the Journal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp introduced, Tuesday, June 21, Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl of Fargo for a U.S. Senate hearing considering Puhl’s nomination to serve as a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which includes North Dakota.

If approved by the Committee and then the full U.S. Senate, Puhl will be the first female confirmed to a lifetime appointment in a North Dakota judicial seat.

For the past 14 years as an Assistant United States Attorney for North Dakota, Puhl has been at the helm of the state’s fight against human trafficking, child exploitation, and cybercrime.

She has worked to protect victims and prosecute perpetrators through a victim-centered, inclusive approach that draws from her close relationship with tribal communities, as well as a strong coalition of law enforcement and service providers.

After Judge Kermit Bye announced in December 2014 that he would take senior status on the court, Puhl was nominated by the president in January to the Eighth Circuit to fill the newly vacated seat on the court.

“For nearly a decade and a half, Jennifer Puhl has been a true champion of North Dakota’s most vulnerable – working to protect exploited children and victims of human trafficking, and going after criminals who attempt to operate with impunity in Indian Country,” Heitkamp said. “Today I had the unique honor of introducing her as the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee considered her nomination to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and it’s my hope the Committee will quickly learn why she is so qualified for this position and approve her nomination.

“Jennifer’s years of trial work as well as her skilled legal mind and strong moral character have enabled her to effectively handle some of the most difficult cases dealing with human trafficking and child pornography in North Dakota,” Heitkamp continued.

“She also has experience prosecuting crimes on Indian reservations and understands the complex challenges facing Indian Country. Jennifer has never shied away from a case because it is too hard, and our state is better off for it – and her outstanding work has earned the highest praise from law enforcement, victims of crime, and their families. Just as this Committee and the U.S. Senate should approve Jennifer’s nomination, they should also approve the nominations of many other top-notch judges who have been waiting to fill key judicial roles and make sure our justice system is able to fully function,” Heitkamp said.

Puhl currently serves as a Criminal Supervisor in the Fargo office where she regularly advises on appellate briefs and arguments, and has argued a number of cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit since 2002, when she joined the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota after being hired by the former U.S. Attorney.  

“It’s my hope that Jennifer’s nomination will quickly be approved, paving the way for a speedy, bipartisan confirmation on the U.S. Senate floor so that she can make keep making a difference – this time as a judge – across the region,” Heitkamp said.

In addition to having extensive trial experience, Puhl has been named to a number of leadership roles, including Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Coordinator, National Security Cyber Specialist, Human Trafficking Coordinator, and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator.  

Prior to serving as North Dakota’s Assistant United States Attorney, Puhl worked as an associate in the law firm of Kennedy & Graven, chartered in its Minneapolis, Minnesota office.

She also served as a law clerk to the Honorable Mary Muehlen Maring of the North Dakota Supreme Court.

Puhl routinely speaks in North Dakota regarding her work, including educating and cautioning children on the dangers associated with social networking.

Puhl lives in Fargo and is originally from Devils Lake. Her parents are Jay and Jeanne Klemetsrud.

She received her B.A. magna cum laude from the University of North Dakota and her juris doctorate cum laude from the University of North Dakota School of Law.