S. Gene Schwarm was born October 7, 1955, in Vandalia, Illinois, and raised in rural Fayette County, Illinois. He received a bachelor of science degree with high honors from the University of Illinois in 1978 and a juris doctor degree from Washington University School of Law-St. Louis in 1981. Prior to his service on the bench, Justice Schwarm was in the private practice of law in Vandalia, Illinois.
On May 1, 1994, Schwarm was appointed as resident circuit judge for Fayette County in the 4th Judicial Circuit and served in that position until appointed to the 5th District Appellate Court on April 1, 2014. Schwarm served as Chief Judge of the 4th Circuit from 2001 to 2014. He also served as Chairman of the Conference of Chief Circuit Judges for 8 years, from 2006 to 2014.
Justice Schwarm has served on numerous committees and commissions for the Supreme Court, including Chairman of the Supreme Court Legislative Committee, Chairman of the Supreme Court Mentor Committee, member of the Committee on Strategic Planning, and member of the Illinois Judicial Conference. He has also served as faculty for numerous education conferences, seminars and symposiums. A member of the Illinois Judges Association, he was awarded its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. Also in 2010, he was awarded the Benjamin K. Miller Recognition Award for prevention of family violence by the Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Council.
Justice Schwarm is the fifth generation to reside on his family's farm in Fayette County. He and his wife, Ann, have two adult sons, Andrew and Alex.