In the ‘Lime’light

Judge Matthew Opat

Judge Matthew Opat

Well, his hard work paid off. He attended six Howard County schools, including Schley, Lourdes, Elma, Lime Springs, Chester and Cresco, before graduating from Crestwood in 1970. Matthew Opat continued his education and received a B.A. from the University of Iowa and his J.D. (Juris Doctor degree) from the Hamline University School of Law.

After practicing law for 35 years, he was recently appointed District Court Judge in Minnesota’s Third Judicial District by Gov. Mark Dayton. The judgeship will be chambered at Preston in Fillmore County.

His investiture (swearing in) ceremony is taking place on June 28 at 3:00 p.m. at Potter Auditorium in Chatfield. The ceremony is open to the public and, Opat joked, “It seats 800 people, so there’s plenty of room!” A reception will follow. Many judges and possibly the governor may be attending.

His goal of becoming a lawyer was helped along by many individuals, along with his family, who taught him great values. He was a 4-H member throughout his school years and in 1969 became an Eagle Scout through the Lime Springs troop. His project was planting trees at the shooting range, where the Fish and Game Club is located.

He said growing up in the area was great. “Lime Springs had a lot of opportunities for kids. The mothers were around to help at den meetings, and the fathers were around to be Scout leaders. It was a nice time to grow up.”

With help from community and family, he grew into the man he is today.

In a press release, Gov. Dayton stated, “Matthew Opat has been an exemplary public servant throughout his career. I believe that his experience and passion for the law will help him to honorably serve the people of the Third District.”

Opat maintains his own private law practice in Chatfield, Matthew J. Opat, P.A., practicing in 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, where his duties included oversight of the County Attorney’s Office and providing legal advice to the County Board and staff.

Opat is a member of numerous community organizations, including the Chatfield Center for the Arts Advisory Committee, Chatfield Lions and Chatfield Commercial Club. He is also a retired member of the Chatfield Volunteer Fire Department.

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

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