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EC County Judge Gabler retires, reflects on 19 years on the bench

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Eau Claire (WQOW) – After 19 years on the bench, Eau Claire County Judge Bill Gabler hung up his black robe for the final time on Tuesday.

Gabler, 69, worked a full day hearing cases Tuesday before his retirement became official.

He was sworn in as a judge in 1999.

We asked him the biggest challenge he has faced during that time. 

"Too little time to think, too little time to reflect, too little time to do legal research because of the huge increases in the caseloads," Gabler said.

He said those increases are primarily driven by the methamphetamine crisis. Gabler declined to say if any one case during his career as judge stands out in his mind.

We also asked Gabler if social media criticism, or letters to the editor, ever bothered him. He said no, and that other judges feel the same way.

"They (people) don’t have a full picture of what we have to do," Gabler said. "We have to take into account a whole wide variety of things. The things we have to take into account are the need to protect the public, a person’s rehabilitative needs and to respond to the seriousness of the offense. We look at these three factors through the lens of a person’s character." 

He said he will miss his co-workers and law enforcement, expressing admiration for their dedication and hard work.  

Gabler plans to do some traveling, and spend more time with his wife and grandkids. He is also considering volunteer work helping former inmates find jobs.

Gabler’s replacement, Judge Emily Long, was sworn in Wednesday afternoon. She will start hearing cases in about two weeks.