Judge Daniel Gaul, of Serial Season Three, Is Up for Re-Election and He's Running Against a Woman of Color

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Wanda C. Jones
  • Wanda C. Jones
Daniel Gaul, who has been a Cuyahoga County judge since 1991, was recently featured on the hit podcast Serial.

In the jaw-dropping second episode of the Cleveland-based third season, host Sarah Koenig and reporter Emmanuel Dzotsi examined Gaul's courtroom behavior and sentencing tactics. Koenig suggested, ultimately, that Gaul should be investigated and sanctioned by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Gaul's racist language and unconstitutional sentencing — he typically demands, as a condition of court-ordered probation, that defendants refrain from having children out of wedlock — painted a grim picture of the Court of Common Pleas and was contrasted sharply with the the more therapeutic drug court, overseen by Judge Joan Synenberg.

As fate would have it, Gaul is up for re-election in November. He is seeking his fifth six-year term, which, due to age restrictions, would be his last. Gaul, 64, is a Democrat in good standing who's unabashed about his "political incorrectness" and purports to be sincere in his straight-talking efforts to rehabilitate criminals and rid the world of bad guys.



He is running against a 46-year-old black attorney named Wanda C. Jones. The Plain Dealer / Cleveland.com editorial board narrowly endorsed Jones this weekend, citing the pattern of Gaul's prejudicial behavior.

The endorsement noted that while Jones' experience is more limited than Gaul's — she has practiced law for only seven years — she is "calm, measured, and ardent about the need for change and for bringing new perspectives to the bench."

With good reason! The Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas is dominated by Irishmen and Italians — "Russo, Russo, Russo and Russo." Only two of the 34 judges who hear criminal cases are black.

Wanda Jones will appear Tuesday night at a nonpartisan judicial candidates' forum moderated by Leon Bibb at the South Euclid United Church of Christ. Per the event description, questions for the candidates will address bail reform, the criminalization of drug use, and children being tried as adults.

Judge Gaul, reportedly, will not be attending.   

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