Kossuth judge is a county first

ALGONA – Ann Gales has become Kossuth County’s first female district associate judge.

Gales, who began the position Feb. 25, has long been a presence in the county’s legal community.

“I’m enjoying the job very much,” she said. “I’ve traveled around to all the counties I’ll be working in, and I’m just getting my feet wet and learning about my new responsibilities.”

As an associate judge, Gales’ responsibilities are many.

“It’s kind of carved district court jurisdiction, so I do criminal cases and juvenile court,” she said.

Gales has an undergraduate degree from University of Notre Dame and a law degree from Duke Law School. After graduating Gales worked in Chicago for the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice for several years.

“I moved to Iowa after marrying a local farmer in southern Kossuth County,” she said. “I took some time off raising my children, then returned to work as assistant county attorney for Kossuth County. I did that for four years, constituting mostly domestic violence and sexual abuse cases. And then opened my own law office in Algona where I’ve worked for the last seven years before being selected to replace Judge (Donald) Bormann.”

Gales said she enjoys being a lawyer and strongly values the law.

“It’s just about being fair,” she said. “My part is going to be to make sure that the people who come into my courtroom are treated with dignity and respect.”

It was a surprise, Gales said, to discover she was the county’s first female district associate judge.

“There were some female attorneys way back when, but I’m not sure whether any of them served as magistrate judge. Some of the local lawyers were talking about that,” she said.

Gales said she feels honored to be the first female to serve in the role, and has considered the weight of her appointment.

“It’s only appropriate because we do have a number of excellent female participants in the legal community,” she said. “I just think it’s fitting, and I’m proud.”