Successor to McHenry County Judge Michael Coppedge, who died this month, to be chosen by circuit judges

Judge Michael Coppedge talks to the attorneys during Nathan Rigg’s jury trial Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, in the McHenry County courthouse in Woodstock. Rigg was charged with two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child younger than age 13, a Class X felony. Rigg was accused of sexually abusing a 4-year-old child in 2019, according to court records. The case was investigated by the Woodstock Police Department, and a warrant was issued for his arrest in March 2020.

A process is underway to replace McHenry County Judge Michael Coppedge, who died Nov. 13.

The Illinois Supreme Court has posted a notice of the judicial vacancy and its administrative arm the Office of the Illinois Courts, will receive applications through Dec. 27, according to a news release from Chief Judge Michael Chmiel of McHenry County’s 22nd Judicial Circuit.

Coppedge, 61, collapsed in his chambers at the courthouse in Woodstock two weeks ago and was pronounced dead a short time later. He was remembered as a “brilliant” and thoughtful jurist.

“It’s a challenging time for us at the courthouse, but we need to continue our work, to serve those who come to us with matters to resolve,” Chmiel said in the release.

Chmeil added that “the holidays and the upcoming biennial educational conference of the Illinois courts “also challenge us, but we will do what we can, when we can, so we do not miss a beat.” The conference fulfills the state requirement that each Illinois judge receives 30 hours of training every two years, according to the Illinois Courts’ website.

Attorneys who practice in McHenry County will be polled on the candidates and there will be a chance to submit public comments, the chief judge’s news release said. The 22nd Circuit judges will then review applications, interview candidates and select the person who will fill the post. They must be attorneys licensed in Illinois to be considered.

Separately, voters in next year’s election will also choose a judge for McHenry County’s 22nd Judicial Circuit to replace Judge Robert Wilbrandt, who retired.

Circuit judges are elected for six-year terms and then must run every six years for retention. Associate judges, like Coppedge, are appointed for circuit judges for four-year terms.