Crime & Courts

Area circuit court swears in 2 judges

McHenry County has sworn in two new judges this month, while also parting with the chief of the state’s attorney’s office’s criminal division, who began his judgeship in Winnebago County on Friday.

Former Libertyville-based attorney Justin M. Hansen and former first assistant state’s attorney Robert J. Zalud each took their oaths of office this month. Both men were honored at separate ceremonies in the McHenry County courthouse, where Chief of the 22nd Judicial Circuit James Cowlin swore in the new judges.

Hansen took office Feb. 8 at the McHenry County courthouse after an Illinois Supreme Court appointment to circuit judge. His appointment filled the vacancy left by retired judge Michael J. Sullivan.

Before becoming a judge, Hansen worked as a prosecutor and special public defender.

“What I hope is evident is that I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to know and learn from all of the great people during my career,” Hansen said at his Feb. 8 ceremony. “I have had the opportunity to see other people live and act with integrity and do what is right, and I will continue to always do better to understand what that means.”

Zalud similarly was sworn in as an associate judge Friday. The county’s circuit judges selected him from 19 applicants to fill an associate judge vacancy.

Zalud previously worked at the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office, Donahue & Walsh P.C. law firm and the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office as an assistant state’s attorney. He most recently served as the first assistant state’s attorney.

“There were a number of other applicants who were incredibly qualified for this position, but you put your confidence in me, and that’s something I will never forget and never take for granted,” Zalud said.

While Zalud was sworn in Friday, former chief of the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office’s criminal division John Gibbons took his oath in Winnebago County, where he was hired as an associate judge earlier this month.

“I am truly humbled by this appointment,” Gibbons said in a news release.

McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Randi Freese, who is married to Zalud, will fill Gibbons’ position as chief of the criminal division.

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