In his law career, Chris Gaal said he has dealt with civil, criminal, family and immigration cases. He has spent half of his law career in private practice as an attorney and the other half as a prosecutor.
Now, he hopes to move to the opposite side of the bench as he runs for judge in the Monroe County Seat 2 race.
“I’ve seen the legal system from a lot of different sides, advocating for the public,” he said. “I think that kind of diversity and experience is good for someone running for judge.”
Three judicial seats — Seat 2, Seat 3 and Seat 8 — in Monroe County are up for grabs in the midterm election Nov. 6.
Seven Democrats have announced intentions to run in the primary. Two are running for Seat 3, three are running for Seat 8 and one other candidate, Christine Talley Haseman, plans to run against Gaal in the primary for the Seat 2.
The May 8 primary will narrow the field to one Democrat per seat. No Republicans have announced plans to run for a judicial seat, and if none do, whoever of the Democrats wins each primary will also win the general election by default.
Gaal is currently serving his third term as prosecutor for Monroe County.
If elected judge, Gaal said one of his goals would be to form more connections with the community, addressing issues such as mental health and substance abuse.
“The justice system can’t adequately address those things on our own,” Gaal said. “The justice system has an important role to play, but we need to address it as a community.”
Collaboration has been a focus of his time as prosecutor, during which he helped create several programs addressing sexual assault and child advocacy.
In 2009, he helped start the Monroe County sexual assault response team, a community-involved program which helps to create a cohesive response to reports of sexual assault.
He also helped create the sexual assault nurse examiner program at IU Health Bloomington Hospital to offer free forensic medical exams after a report of sexual assault.
Gaal also worked to develop a child advocacy center in Bloomington called Susie's Place, which conducts safe forensic interviews of children who have been the victims or witnesses of a crime in a kid-friendly environment.
“In order for courts to be effective, we have to form partnerships,” Gaal said. “We need community collaborations.”
Gaal has lived in Bloomington since he moved here for his undergraduate education in 1985.
He was previously elected to Bloomington city council for seven years. During his time on the council, he said he advocated for bike paths and a smoking ban in local establishments.
Gaal also has also served on the WFHB Board of Directors and the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation, among other groups.
“I love this community,” he said. “I want to continue serving the community as judge.”
To read about the other candidates, see our Monroe County judicial election page here.
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