Walz appoints Jeremy Clinefelter to fill Third Judicial District vacancy

Published 3:08 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2022

A lawyer with Austin ties has been appointed to the judge’s chair by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz. 

Walz announced on Wednesday the appointment of Jeremy Clinefelter as District Court Judge in Minnesota’s Third Judicial District. He will replace the Honorable Matthew J. Opat and will be chambered in Preston in Fillmore County.

“I am excited to appoint Jeremy Clinefelter to the Fillmore County bench,” Walz said in a statement. “He is a proven leader with an extensive legal background working as a public defender, county attorney, and private attorney. He will be a tremendous asset to the Third Judicial District.”

Clinefelter is currently the managing attorney of the Third Judicial District Public Defender’s Office in Owatonna supervising attorneys and support staff serving indigent clients in Rice, Waseca, Steele, Freeborn, and Mower counties. 

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Clinefelter previously worked in private practice at the Donnelly Law Office in Austin, where he represented clients in criminal, child protection, civil commitment, guardianship, and conservatorship matters. 

Clinefelter is the second lawyer with connections to Donnelly Law Office to be appointed this year to the judge’s chair. In August, Donnelly lawyer Natalie Martinez was sworn in as Third District judge, serving out of Mower County.

Clinefelter has also served as an assistant county attorney and a conciliation court referee in Mower County, and is the chair of the Tenth District Ethics Committee. 

He also serves on the boards of KSMQ Public Television, Cedar Valley Services, and the Austin Youth Soccer Association and is a member of the Michael H. Seibel Family Visitation and Exchange Center Consortium. 

He earned his B.A. from Graceland College and J.D. from Hamline University School of Law.

Minnesota’s Third Judicial District encompasses Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, and Winona counties.