Brenda Johnston, Republican, has announced her candidacy for County Court at Law Judge of Anderson County.
Johnston brings more than 20 years experience practicing law to the race.
After graduating Texas A&M, Commerce, Johnston taught elementary school for several years before attending Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas.
Upon graduation from law school, Johnston went into private practice in Palestine, focusing on the areas of family law, criminal defense, probate and employment law.
Johnston said that her years of experience in those areas of the law make her qualified for the County Court at Law bench.
“This is a position I’ve worked toward my whole career,” she said. “I intentionally branched out into areas of the law that few other attorneys here have, practicing in both criminal defense and prosecution at all levels, complex civil litigation, mental health, municipal law and prosecution, and family law including Child Protective Service cases from the perspective of parents, children and the Department. These are all within the jurisdiction of the County Court at Law and I have that foundation to serve as Judge. Most recently, holding the job of Municipal Judge has given me critical experience that will allow me to get right to work as CCL Judge. Giving parties before the Court timely and fair resolution to their cases will be my first priority as Judge. The citizens of Anderson County deserve to have a Court that moves the criminal docket efficiently and hears civil matters so that folks can get on with their lives and business.”
Early in her practice Johnston began working extensively in the area of mental health law.
“Working with people who need mental health treatment and their families is something I’m passionate about,” Johnston said. “I’ve worked as a court appointed advocate for mental health patients and represented local mental health providers in our County since very early in my practice. It’s truly one of the most rewarding things I do – working within the legal system to help folks get the help they need.”
Johnston has previously served as City Attorney for the city of Palestine where she advised the city council on legal matters and handled local representation, and Municipal Prosecutor where she prosecuted municipal ordinance, Class C criminal offenses and traffic cases for 13 years. She is the sitting Municipal Judge for the city of Palestine.
In 2015, Johnston accepted a job with then newly elected District Attorney, Allyson Mitchell’s office as a felony prosecutor. For the last three years, Johnston has served District Attorney Mitchell as attorney for the Department of Family and Protective Services.
“I’ve been blessed to work with the Department to help protect the children of Anderson County for several years now,” Johnston said. “These children face circumstances that most of us can’t even imagine, from exposure to drugs and deplorable living conditions to physical injury and sexual abuse. I’m very proud to work with a dedicated group of people in the Department, the local medical community, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Nurse Jessi Jones, the Crisis Center for Anderson and Cherokee Counties and Court Appointed Special Advocates to help make sure our children are safe and cared for and to help provide parents with the critical services they need to care for their children if they are reunited.”
Johnston is active in service to the county outside the courthouse, as well.
Johnston is a member of the Palestine Rotary Club and currently serves on the board as Director of Foundations.
“Rotary’s worldwide goal is to eradicate Polio and we are this close to doing so,” Johnston said while holding two fingers almost to touch. “Our local club supports that critical health measure as well as many projects both within and outside our area. The motto of Rotary is ‘Service Above Self.’ That motto is at the core of everything we do and it sets the standard for how Rotarians live life and conduct business. And it’s a lot of fun.”
While she has a long history of serving the people, and animals, of Anderson County, there are some organizations with which she’s particularly proud of working, including BARC: The Humane Society of Anderson County, Meals on Wheels and the YMCA as a volunteer or board member over the years. “In the last couple of years I’ve tried to really focus my energy and support on volunteering with organizations that provide critical, sometimes life-saving help,” Johnston said. “That includes the Executive Board of Directors of the Crisis Center of Anderson and Cherokee Counties. The Crisis Center provides so many valuable services to women and children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse. I’m honored to help make that happen.”
Johnston has a grown daughter and is married to Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston.