Who is Kelli Johnson? Mystery as renowned Texas judge disappears from court - Hindustan Times
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Who is Kelli Johnson? Mystery as renowned Texas judge disappears from court

BySumanti Sen
May 23, 2024 11:09 PM IST

Judge Kelli Johnson is one of Harris County’s longest-serving current jurists, and was overseeing various key criminal trials.

A prominent Texas judge has been mysteriously missing from the courtroom for nearly a month now. Judge Kelli Johnson is one of Harris County’s longest-serving current jurists, and was overseeing various key criminal trials.

Who is Kelli Johnson? Renowned Texas judge disappears from court (Kelli Johnson/Facebook)
Who is Kelli Johnson? Renowned Texas judge disappears from court (Kelli Johnson/Facebook)

Since May 1, Johnson has not turned up at the 178th District Courthouse in Houston. No one knows where she is or when she might be back. As of now, a court spokesperson has only said that “Johnson is out for personal matters.”

However, a person who works at the courthouse has said that Johnson’s manic behaviour is concerning, according to ABC13. “She’s a danger to herself and to the community,” the staffer claimed.

A May 4 police report stated that the judge was recently in touch with cops in relation to an incident that took place near her home. The report described a “disturbance/CIT,” which is a police acronym for crisis intervention. The circumstances around the incident is unclear.

Who is Judge Kelli Johnson?

Johnson says on her website that she served Harris County as both a judge and an ex-Assistant District Attorney. She is the first openly gay female judge to be elected in Harris County. She is married and has two sons. 

“I recognize pervasive problems of racial and ethnic disparity have plagued our justice system for too long so strive to create equality for everyone,” her website says.

It adds, “Since taking my oath of office in 2017, I have presided over cases ranging from low-risk state jail felonies to capital murder. I am honored and grateful to serve in my role of State District Judge for the 178th Criminal District Court and look forward to continuing my service to all the citizens of Harris County.”

Shortly before her disappearance, Johnson presided over the trial of a man who beat his girlfriend’s eight-year-old son to death in 2020. In 20 minutes, Johnson found Brian Coulter guilty of capital murder in Kendrick Lee’s death. “This is probably one of the most horrific set of facts that I have ever had to witness, to listen to and to imagine,” she told the killer.

Johnson has also overseen the case of AJ Armstrong, a man who was convicted of shooting his parents in 2016, when he was a teenager. He was convicted in August after two mistrials.

After her disappearance, a visiting judge has been handed some of her cases and hearings. Last week, retired judge Jim Wallace began presiding over a trial.

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