The Backstory: Kendall County’s first elected district court judge reflects on past two years in office, plans for future

Judge Kristen Cohoon looks ahead after winning landmark election, now helping to lead county during COVID-19 pandemic

BOERNE, Texas – When former Kendall County Judge Kirsten Cohoon took her place as 451st District Court Judge in January 2018, she became the county’s first elected State District Court Judge, defeating an incumbent appointed by the governor.

Cohoon defeated veteran Judge Bill Palmer in the Republican primary election. Palmer had been appointed to the post by Texas Gov. Greg Abbot after the Legislature created the court in 2015.

Kendall County district court judge conducts first live jury trial since COVID-19 outbreak

“I just ran on what I wanted to run on and what I wanted to do with the court, and I didn’t really think about that part,” Cohoon said when asked about the significance of defeating a male 16-year veteran incumbent.

While creating the court, the Legislature eliminated several positions, including the county judge, leaving Cohoon with a challenging workload.

“We have a full plate,” Cohoon said. “We are a busy court. We have one court. There are no criminal courts, no civil, probate or juvenile courts.”

Cohoon said Kendall County’s rapid growth has left behind the perception of “good ole boy politics.” She said her gender does not come into play.

“I really don’t think of that,” Cohoon said. “And I don’t think Kendall County does either.”

In Kendall County, the district clerk’s office, county clerk’s office, district attorney’s office and four justice of the peace offices are all led by women, leaving Cohoon in good company.

Cohoon said that as she nears the halfway point in her term, she’s anxious to work on her goal of reducing a backlog created in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would like to see us work harder and be able to be back in court,” Cohoon said. “I just don’t know when that will be.”

In August, Cohoon conducted the first in-person jury trial in Kendall County since March when jury trials were suspended due to the pandemic.

About the Authors:

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.