Judge since: 2006
McHale worked for years as a Cook County assistant state’s attorney, where his assignments included the cold case homicide unit and working as a supervisor of the preliminary hearings unit. He was inducted in 2005 to the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame for his “political activism, neighborhood organizing, and professional achievement” as an openly gay assistant state’s attorney. McHale currently presides over felony cases.
Bar Association ratings
This year: The CBA and CCL rated him as qualified, and the ISBA recommended him for retention.
Past: McHale was rated positively by CCL, CBA, and ISBA in 2012.
Notable: Injustice Watch reviewed McHale’s record and found several controversies during his time as a criminal court judge. He was accused of engaging in unethical conversations with prosecutors during a murder trial last year. He also dismissed several jurors in a chaotic gang conspiracy trial amid allegations of racial bias in the jury room; defense attorneys contend he was wrong not to allow them to question the dismissed jurors. In 2016 the Illinois Appellate Court called McHale’s sentence of 12 years in prison for a defendant convicted of burglarizing a school—for having stolen $44 in loose change from a vending machine at a college— “anomalous and absurd.” The Injustice Watch analysis of criminal court judges sentencing data found McHale ranks in the middle in sentencing severity among the 24 judges assigned to the Criminal Division who have presided over 1,000 or more cases in the past six years.