Judges and Staff

There are three branches of the Milwaukee Municipal Court. Each of the three judges is elected to preside over a specific branch. All branches hear the same types of cases with hearing schedules that rotate from week to week.

Presiding Judge Phil Chavez is responsible for establishing judicial policy and guidelines. He does this in consultation with the other municipal judges and the Chief Court Administrator, Sheldyn M. Himle. The Chief Court Administrator reports to the Presiding Judge.

A dedicated staff of about 30 employees assists the judges in their duty of administering justice at the municipal level. The Chief Court Administrator manages the staff, makes sure that the court has adequate resources, and that court resources are used in accordance with court mission and strategic objectives. 


A picture of Judge Valarie A. Hill

Judge Valarie A. Hill

was elected in the April 2004 Spring Election to Branch 1 of the Municipal Court. From 1998 until her election to the bench, she served as a Milwaukee County Judicial Court Commissioner, where she presided over thousands of misdemeanor, felony, traffic, juvenile and small claims cases. Previously, Judge Hill served as a Deputy First Assistant, Senior Assistant and Assistant State Public Defender in the Milwaukee Trial Office where she was a member of the management team and handled thousands of criminal and administrative matters for indigent defendants. Judge Hill graduated from The Ohio State University and the University of Akron School of Law where she received the Black Law Student Association Highest GPA Award. She is active in numerous community-based organizations and is a member of the Wisconsin, Milwaukee and National Bar Associations as well as the National Association of Women Judges.

A picture of Judge Phillip M. Chavez

Judge Phil Chavez

was elected in the April 2007 Spring Election to Branch 3 of the Municipal Court where he is currently serving his fourth consecutive 4-year term. From 2002 until his election to the City of Milwaukee bench, he served as a substitute judge in all three branches of the Milwaukee Municipal Court where he presided over thousands of cases. Previously, Judge Chavez served as a Municipal Judge for the Village of Mount Horeb in Dane County, Wisconsin where he was elected twice (2002, 2004) for two-year terms. Judge Chavez earned his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin, lettering in football as a member of the 1994 Rose Bowl Championship team, and earned his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School. He is serving as the current Presiding Judge, after previously serving in the role from 2012 - 2017. He is active in Veterans Stand Down where he provides community court for homeless and indigent veterans, volunteer coaches high school football, was a certified substitute teacher for grades K-12 and sat on the Board of Directors for Special Olympics-Wisconsin for 11+ years.


Sheldyn M. Himle

was appointed as the Municipal Court's Chief Court Administrator in December, 2012, after serving as its Assistant Court Administrator since May, 2010.  Ms. Himle previously worked within Court Administration for the 4th Judicial District-Hennepin County, in Minnesota.  Her work in the courts began in 2000, when she was the Court Administrator for the State of Minnesota Tax Court of Appeals.  Prior to that, her work history includes having been a member of the Dean's Administration team at Hamline University School of Law, and a government relations representative and lobbyist for Grand Metropolitan Food Sector and the Pillsbury Company.  She graduated magna cum laude from Hamline University, achieving a B.A. in Political Science.


Dawn M. Day Hourigan

was promoted to the Court Business Manager in February 2018 after serving as an Accounting Assistant III since April 2017. Mrs. Hourigan joined the Municipal Court in August 2016 after an 18 year career in the world of non-profit museum management. She is a UW-Milwaukee alumna with a Master’s Degree in Museology.


Mary A. O'Connor

assumed the role of Management Accounting Specialist in May, 2015, after previously serving as the Municipal Court's Administrative Services Supervisor from June, 2010.  Ms. O'Connor came to the court from the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) where she worked as a supervisor in the Emergency Dispatch Center.  Her work with the MFD began in 1991.  She holds a Master's Degree in Business Management from Cardinal Stritch University.


Timothy T. Richter

joined the Court as IT Manager in January, 2020. Mr. Richter has provided IT leadership for a diverse portfolio of industries including digital media, finance, medical, law, education, association management and non-profit sectors. He is a graduate of Marquette University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and a Minor in History.



Court Organizational Chart


Municipal Court Organizational Chart

City of Milwaukee Municipal Court 

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951 N. James Lovell St.
Milwaukee, WI  53233

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Unscheduled (walk-in) appearances are suspended until further notice. If you did not pre-register and the session is full, you will need to call (414) 286-6600.

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