Commission on Judicial Selection recommends Third Judicial District candidates to Gov. Walz

(ABC 6 News) – The Commission on Judicial Selection announced on Tuesday that it is recommending three candidates to fill a vacancy in Minnesota’s Third Judicial District.

The vacancy will occur upon the retirement of the Honorable Matthew J. Opat.

The seat will be chambered in Preston in Fillmore County.

The Third Judicial District consists of the eleven counties of Southeast Minnesota including; Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, and Winona. 

Twenty-four judges and one referee serve the District.

The three candidates for consideration are below:

Jeremy Clinefelter: He is the managing attorney of the Third Judicial District Public Defender’s Office in Owatonna. In this role, he supervises attorneys and support staff serving indigent clients in Rice, Waseca, Steele, Freeborn, and Mower Counties. Clinefelter previously worked in private practice at the Donnelly Law Office, where he represented clients in criminal, child protection, civil commitment, guardianship, and conservatorship matters. He also served as an assistant county attorney and a conciliation court referee in Mower County, and he is the chair of the Tenth District Ethics Committee. Clinefelter serves on the boards of KSMQ Public Television, Cedar Valley Services, and the Austin Youth Soccer Association. He was also a member of the Michael H. Seibel Family Visitation and Exchange Center Consortium.

Debra Groehler: She is a managing attorney in the Civil Division of the Olmsted County Attorney’s Office, where she supervises a team of attorneys who handle child protection, adult protection, and juvenile delinquency cases. Groehler previously worked as the executive director of Legal Assistance of Olmsted County. Her community involvement includes serving as a member of the Juvenile Law Committee at the Minnesota County Attorneys Association and as secretary of the Next Chapter Ministry Board of Directors. She has also volunteered for the Rochester Public Schools and for the Honors Choirs of Southeast Minnesota.

Dwight Luhmann: He is a solo practitioner and the Preston city attorney. He practices in the areas of criminal law, family law, estate planning, real estate, probate, and civil litigation. Luhmann also serves as the prosecuting attorney for the cities of Rushford and Wykoff. Luhmann previously worked as an attorney at David A. Joerg, P.A. His community involvement includes serving as the chair of the Preston Economic Development Authority, the president of the Fillmore County Law Library Board, and the parent attorney representative for the Fillmore County Children’s Justice Initiative. Luhmann is a past board member and president of the Preston Area Community Foundation. He is also a past board member of Grace Church in Stewartville.

For more information about the judicial selection process, CLICK HERE.