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Governor Appoints Matt Wilson as New Presiding Judge for Second Circuit

By Echo Menges

Missouri Governor Mike Parson has appointed the Adair County Prosecutor Matthew Wilson as Presiding Circuit Judge for Missouri’s Second Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Adair, Knox and Lewis counties. The announcement that Wilson had been appointed was released to the public on Friday, April 1, 2022.

Wilson will fill the seat vacated by Judge Russell E. Steele. Judge Steele retired as the Second Circuit Presiding Judge at the end of February on his seventieth birthday.

The following interview was conducted via email with Matthew Wilson.

Where and when did you graduate from high school?

I graduated from Mount Michael Benedictine High School located just outside of Omaha, Nebraska in 1995.

When did you graduate from law school?

I graduated from Creighton University School of Law in 2004.

What types of law have you practiced?

When I was in private practice I primarily practiced criminal law but also did family law, juvenile law, worker’s compensation and civil practice.

When did you become the Adair County Prosecutor?

I was sworn in as the Adair County Prosecuting Attorney on March 22, 2010.

What is the biggest challenge of being the Adair County Prosecutor?

As a prosecutor we are bound by what the law is and how it is interpreted by the appellate courts. Sometimes that means we have to make difficult decisions that cannot always be easily explained or may not be received with much popularity. We have to do what the law says not what we think it should be and sometimes that can be challenging.

What happens to the Prosecutor seat after you become the Circuit Judge?

Once I resign from my position as the Adair County Prosecuting Attorney my replacement will be appointed by Judge Redington as the acting Presiding Judge.

What advice to you have for your replacement?

Be consistent, be contemplative, and be willing to seek advice.

Why did you go into law?

I had a desire to go into public service and government in hopes of being able to make a positive difference in my community.

What is your favorite part about practicing law?

I enjoy the way that everyday brings something new. There is always a new case, change in law, or opportunity to meet someone new. I have particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work with so many different people through several avenues in the community.

For you, what has been the biggest challenge in practicing law?

The practice of law has become very specialized and over the last five years we have seen a great deal of change in the law, technology, and the norms and expectations of society. It is a challenge as the law tries to keep up with all of these other changes.

How has your experience as a lawyer prepared you for this appointment?

I have been a public defender, practiced in a private law firm and served as a prosecuting attorney. As a Circuit Judge, I will work with Public Defenders, Private Attorneys, and Prosecutors alike. I am able to recognize the role each person plays and the importance they each hold in order to ensure the Civil and Criminal Justice Systems work as well as they can.

Wilson and his wife Andrea have been married for nearly 24 years. They have a daughter and son-in-law that reside in and attend college in Utah and three teenage boys who live at home in Kirksville. They have lived in Kirksville since 2004 and have spent countless hours coaching several youth sports, volunteering in the schools, and they love being outdoors hiking and fishing. Matt just finished his 7th year as a member of the Board of Directors for the Missouri Association of Treatment Court Professionals serving as President the last two years.