Chatfield attorney, two others recommended
for vacancy in Third Judicial District
Monday, April 15, 2013 10:46 AM
Matthew Opat of Chatfield is one of three candidates the Commission on Judicial Selection is recommending to Gov. Mark Dayton for consideration to fill the vacancy in Minnesota's Third Judicial District.
This vacancy was created upon the retirement of Robert R. Benson. This seat will be chambered at Preston in Fillmore County within the Third Judicial District.
In addition to Opat, the only candidate from Fillmore County, Richard Jackson in Olmsted County and Winona County Attorney Karin Sonneman.
Opat maintains his own private law practice in Chatfield, Matthew J. Opat, P.A., where his practice includes areas of real estate, probate, general business, civil, and criminal law. He also serves as the prosecutor for the City of Chatfield in petty misdemeanor, misdemeanor, and gross misdemeanor violations. Previously, Opat served as the Fillmore County attorney. Opat is a member of numerous community organizations, including the Chatfield Center for the Arts Advisory Committee, and is a retired member of the Chatfield Volunteer Fire Department.
Jackson is the lead attorney for the Special Prosecution Unit in the Olmsted County Attorney's Office, overseeing three attorneys and maintaining a caseload primarily of felony level domestic relationship related crimes. He previously served as the Houston County attorney, where he acted as the chief prosecutor for the county. Jackson is an adjunct professor for the Baccalaureate Paralegal Program at Winona State University and an active volunteer for Neighbors in Action in La Crescent.
Sonneman is the current Winona County attorney, handling the duties of the county's chief criminal prosecutor and counsel for Winona County. She previously served as an assistant public defender for Minnesota's Third Judicial District, and, prior to that, was a private practice attorney at Sonneman & Sonneman, P.A. Sonneman is the current vice-chair of the Winona County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, a member of the Winona Senior High School Band Booster Board, and a member of the Winona County Sheriff's Advisory Council.
Minnesota's Third Judicial District consists of Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, and Winona Counties.
An announcement of the appointment will be made following an interview process over the next few weeks.