Law alumna joins U.S. Attorney office as federal prosecutor

October 26, 2021

Headshot of Stacey Todd

Stacey Todd, JD ’13, was recently sworn in as Assistant United States Attorney for the Department of Justice. Hired alongside 23 other federal prosecutors, she is aiding in a massive influx of cases in the Northern District of Oklahoma due to recent legislation.

In 2020, the McGirt vs. Oklahoma case recognized that certain tribes’ reservations were never disestablished in the state. Therefore, cases within these territories were to be tried either in tribal or federal court: State courts do not have the right to prosecute crimes that transpired on Native American land where either the defendant or victim is a member of a federally recognized tribe.

Now, Oklahoma’s tribal and federal courts are flooded with cases that used to be typically handled by the state, along with requests for cases to be retried within the new jurisdictional framework. The Northern District of Oklahoma is particularly affected by this decision, as about half of the district is recognized as land belonging to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and the other half belonging to the Cherokee Nation.

Todd applied for the position in Oklahoma during the worst of the COVID pandemic, as she and her family sought to relocate to the Midwest. She spent five years as Assistant District Attorney in California’s Modoc County office. Before this, Todd was an Associate Attorney with Horton, Knox, Carter & Foote LLP, where she worked primarily on healthcare law, she explained.

Federal agencies are partnering with tribal agencies in establishing where cases will be tried, said Todd. Tribal courts have a maximum penalty of approximately three years, and therefore the more serious offenses are generally tried federally.  All agencies are working diligently to expand and adapt during this transition, and to make sure all cases receive the appropriate attention.

Todd recognized her passion for civil service during her law studies at Quinnipiac. She performed pro-bono work for low-income clients through the university’s Legal Clinic and interned under Judges Scarpellino and McNamara in Meriden’s Superior Court.

Todd, a self-professed law nerd, encourages current students to take advantage of all the real-life learning opportunities available to them.

“During law school, it’s important to put in the hours and get real, hands-on experience. This is how you really find out what you’re passionate about,” said Todd. “You don’t really know what will spark your interest until you’ve actually tried it in the courtroom.”

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