The next chief judge of McHenry County’s 22nd Judicial Circuit will be Michael J. Chmiel, his fellow judges decided.
Chmiel will replace Judge James S. Cowlin, who has served as chief judge since December 2018, according to a news release. The new term will start Dec. 1 and end on Nov. 30, 2024.
Born and raised in Chicago, Chmiel received his bachelor’s degree in economics and administration from the University of Notre Dame in 1987 and his law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1990.
After serving as a law clerk to a federal bankruptcy judge and working in practice practice for 12 years, Chmiel was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court in November 2004 to a vacancy in the 19th Circuit Court, which at the time included both McHenry and Lake counties, according to the release.
The two counties separated judicially in January 2007. Chmiel elected a judge in McHenry County’s new circuit court in 2006 ahead of the split and voters retained him in 2012 and 2018.
Since January 2012, he has served in the court’s civil division, handling arbitration, chancery and probate cases. He has been the division’s presiding judge since January 2018 and has previously been the presiding judge of the court’s family division.
Outside of the courthouse, Chmiel has served as a past president of the Notre Dame Club of McHenry County and as a past chairman of the Salvation Army Advisory Board of McHenry County, according to the release. For the past 18 years, he has also served as a youth coach in softball, baseball, and basketball.