St. Clair County Circuit Judge William Stiehl Jr. began his brief three-month appointment Thursday, presiding over the probate docket.
Stiehl was sworn in Wednesday afternoon by Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson before a full house and 16 other judges of the 20th Judicial Circuit, which includes Monroe, Perry, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington counties.
Stiehl was picked by Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier to fill the vacancy left by Circuit Judge Robert LeChien who died on Aug. 31, 2017. The full court then approved Karmeier's recommendation.
The vacancy remained unfilled for nearly a year before Gleeson made a request to the Illinois Supreme Court to fill the seat on July 17 due to a short-handed judiciary.
Gleeson had previously maintained that he did not have the authority to request a replacement, sparking controversy.
In a short speech at Stiehl’s swearing-in ceremony, Gleeson said that had Karmeier been able to attend the event, “I would thank him profusely for making this appointment.”
Gleeson said Stiehl is “steady” and “logical” with a “depth and wealth of legal knowledge.”
“He’s going to be able to hit the ground immediately, and hit it running,” he said.
Stiehl, the son of the late federal court Judge William D. Stiehl Sr., was sworn in wearing his father’s robe. Stiehl Jr.’s young granddaughter also wore the same dress her mother wore to Stiehl Sr.’s swearing-in ceremony.
During his speech, Stiehl thanked Karmeier for “having the faith in me to make this appointment."
"Although, as my alleged friend said, ‘He only had three-months’ worth of faith in you,'” Stiehl joked.
Stiehl thanked his family and supporters and said he hopes to bring the same sense of fairness and justice to the bench as his father.
He closed his short two-minute speech by joking, “It was suggested to me today that the length of my speech should reflect the fact that this is a three-month appointment, so I’ll take that advice. Thank you all very much.”