Law 2023: THE HON. MICHAEL URBANSKI
CHIEF JUDGE, U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ROANOKE
Born in Italy, Urbanski received his bachelor’s degree from William & Mary and his law degree from the University of Virginia. He started his legal career in 1981, clerking for Judge James Clinton Turk of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. From 1982 to 1984, he worked in Vinson & Elkins’ Washington, D.C., office.
Urbanski then worked at Roanoke-based firm Woods Rogers from 1984 until his appointment as a U.S. magistrate judge in 2004. Initially nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia in 2010, he was appointed to its bench in 2011 and named chief judge in 2017.
In June, he ordered 23 of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s family’s companies to make more than $400,000 in delinquent payments toward unpaid mine safety fines approaching $5 million. The missed payments were part of a 2020 agreement for a case dating back to 2014.
In July, Urbanski gave notice that he planned to take senior status — a working retirement in which federal judges stay on the bench but with a reduced caseload — on July 4, 2024. U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine opened applications for the judgeship until Aug. 14.