A longtime attorney has been named as resident St. Clair County circuit judge to help with a “judge staff shortage.”
Williams D. Stiehl Jr. was appointed by Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier to fill the vacancy created by Circuit Judge Robert LeChien’s death.
“The timing of Chief Judge Gleeson’s request, coming as it did so close to the upcoming elections, presented a unique challenge for the Court,” Karmeier said. “We did not want to interfere in the fall judicial races by favoring any of the current candidates with the head-start this interim appointment might provide. At the same time, there were obvious, practical difficulties in finding a competent attorney with the flexibility and desire to accept what will be an extremely brief appointment.
The appointment takes effect Aug. 20 and will conclude Dec. 3, when the vacancy will be filled by the winner of the November election. Stiehl is not on the ballot.
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“The Court was therefore very pleased to be able to call on someone of Mr. Stiehl’s experience and ability. We are confident that he will do an excellent job,” Karmeier said. “We are also very grateful that he was willing to put personal inconvenience aside in order to help ensure that the local circuit court will be able to meet its responsibilities to the citizens of the 20th Judicial Circuit until the electoral process runs its course this fall.”
Stiehl’s father, William D. Stiehl, was a long-time federal judge in East St. Louis.
“I am honored that Justice Karmeier nominated me for the position,” Stiehl said. “This appointment is an opportunity to serve the people of the 20th Judicial Circuit, and I look forward to doing so.”
Stiehl has worked in private practice for nearly 40 years, appearing in every courtroom in St. Clair County. He has served as the sole practitioner of the Law Offices of William Stiehl Jr. since 2011, handling civil and criminal matters in state and federal courts. Prior to that he spent 27 years as a partner at law firms in Belleville, and began his career in the St. Clair County Public Defender’s Office.
Besides the vacancy created by LeChien’s death and Associate Judge Walter Brandon’s retirement, two other judges are currently not holding dockets. Circuit Judge Jan Fiss is out on sick leave. Judge Ron Duebbert was removed from hearing cases by Gleeson because of his connection to murder suspect David Fields, whose trial last month ended in a mistrial. There are currently Judicial Inquiry Board complaints pending against Duebbert.