Judge Kelli Johnson was elected in 2016 to the 178th Criminal District Court after serving as Assistant

District Attorney for 17 years.  Growing up, she was inspired by watching her dad advocate for people in need as a plaintiff lawyer in the small town of Sulphur Springs, Texas.


Judge Johnson graduated in the top five of her class at her high school and went on to graduate Cum

Laude from Texas Christian University in Business Communications and a fluency in Spanish from the

University of Salamanca, Spain. Thereafter, she worked at the White House as an intern with the offices

of White House Presidential Inquiries and the Office of Media Affairs.  She then received a position there as a member of the White House Press Advance team.  There she was afforded the opportunity to travel the world as a liaison for the White House on behalf of President Bill Clinton. 

She attended South Texas College of Law, graduating with honors and was 8th on the Texas Bar Exam. During law school, she enjoyed leadership opportunities as Governor of the American Bar Association over Texas and Louisiana law schools. She was President of the Student Body and Moot and Mock Trial finalists in various competitions. She enjoyed an internship at the Court of Criminal Appeals writing the only unanimous first impression opinion regarding criminal trademark infringement.


As Judge, she was elected to her second term in 2020.  She has recently concluded her time as the Administrative Judge over the Criminal Board having been elected by her peers twice. She also serves as a volunteer STAR (Success Through Addiction Recovery) judge over the young women’s docket. This is a passion of hers as she also serves on the State of Texas’ Board of Texas Association of Specialty Courts. She has been a speaker of the Diversity summit with the Houston Bar Association, Ted Talks with the National Association of Women Judges, and the organizer of the Criminal Bench Bar Conference. There she received the President’s award from the Houston Bar Association and has been nominated and selected as a fellow with the American Leadership Forum.


Lastly, and probably one of her proudest volunteer moments is her sponsorship and organization of the

Texas High School Mock Trial Competition where local judges dedicate their time to preside over the

youth competition.


Judge Johnson is married to Hilary Bartlett and they have two sons, Evan, 12 and William, 10 months.  

She hopes, as the first openly gay female judge, her contributions to the profession and community at large will pave the way for others.



Top 10% from South Texas College of Law; American Bar Association Governor


#8 in the State of Texas for State Bar Exam


Fluency in Spanish from the University of Salamanca, Spain


White House Intern and member of the White House Press Advance Team for two years


Chief of Police Commendation and Outstanding Service in Gang Prosecution


Host Judge of the High School Mock Trial Competition


Second highest vote count in 2016 election

Johnson family photo: son Evan, Kelli , partner Hilary

Judge Johnson and her son Evan

Photo credit: Outsmart Magazine, Brandon Wolf

Four judges and a district attorney from the community join the celebration of November’s blue sweep of Harris County.

Photo credit: Outsmart Magazine, Dalton DeHart

LGBTQ Veterans and Allies Military Ball 2019