Business Woman Spotlight: Karen Crouch

Karen Crouch
Senior Judge, State of Texas
Photo by Casey Howell

What do you do? I help people solve disputes both in the courtroom and before their disputes get to the courthouse. After 16 years serving as an elected judge, today I serve as a senior judge sitting by assignment, which allows me to travel throughout the state of Texas handling court dockets in various counties on an as-needed basis. Additionally, I do mediation and arbitration, which is dispute resolution before folks head to the courthouse. Also, I run two small family businesses. And, of course, I am a full-time parent too, helping my husband raise our three wonderful children.

What career path led you to where you are today? I started my private practice in 1986 when I tried civil, criminal and family law cases. In 1994, I was elected Judge of County Court at Law No. 8, where I had the opportunity to hear civil, criminal and family law cases. I served as an elected judge for 16 years. In 2011, I started dispute resolution and sitting as a senior judge by assignment. But most of all, my dad was my “legal” role model.

Why it is important to vote for judges?
Judges make all kinds of decisions, from the very personal, such as child custody decisions, to those with much broader impact. The decisions that judges make affect our lives both directly and indirectly, often for many years to come. You never know when a judge we vote for today will make a decision that will affect your life and the lives of your family and friends.
It is our responsibility to vote for judges we can trust to make impartial decisions based on fair consideration of the fact and the law. In some cases, this means that judges may make unpopular or controversial decisions. We need to trust that our judges can make those right decisions without regard to political or economic pressure. That is why it is so important to vote for qualified people to be judges. Very few people take the time to learn about the judges before voting, and it is more likely people will come in contact with a judge than almost any other elected official.

What is it that you like best about your job? Being a judge you have to have two skill sets. One is getting elected and the other is doing the actual job you have been elected to do. These are very different. In the first part, I love meeting people. In the second part, I enjoy helping find solutions to make people’s lives better by resolving disputes that they were unable to resolve on their own. Every day is different, and there is a great variety so you are never bored. Sometimes life is indeed stranger than fiction.

Education/Major: Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from Baylor University in computer information systems and management, Doctorate of Jurisprudence from St. Mary’s University, Campaign School at Yale University Law School.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your job or life in general? Balance. My father used to say that you work to live, you do not live to work. He would explain you need to love what you are doing. As I grow older, my father grows smarter. Some of his tidbits have profound meaning in my life, and that saying is something that I have always remembered. My parents taught us that balance included time for religion, health, education/ wisdom and social time with family and friends. When I was a young attorney, I was single and did not have much to balance other than studying and learning to practice law. Now with a husband and three children — Gerald (12), Nicholas (11) and Lillianna (10), there are times when my commitments collide as I incorporate their schedules into mine but I am very fortunate to have a very understanding, supportive and retired husband, Gerald.

What person do you most admire? My father, William Ekas Crouch. He taught me that you could do anything you wanted if you set your mind to it and worked hard. He also taught me that multitasking was part of life. He lived that philosophy. He always worked hard and did a number of different things, including being a lawyer, a CPA, a banker, a machine shop owner, the owner of a soap manufacturing company, an owner of a car dealership, a real estate broker and many other things.

How did you get involved in politics? Growing up, my parents were very involved in the community. My parents knew many people who were in political life. When I was 4 years old, my mother worked a polling place in front of my elementary school for one of my dad’s law partners and took my brother and me with her to hand cards to people as they came to vote. Our elementary school was one of the largest voting sites, and my mom said we needed to help get to every voter. Our family worked elections together until I left for college. My mother worked for Senator Criss Cole and taught us that we needed to be involved to make this a better place to live. One of my father’s law partners was the first Republican ever elected in Harris County.

What is your favorite vacation? I enjoy family travel, and having our children, Gerald William, Nico and Lillianna, participate in the planning of trips. My favorite trip is probably a road trip we did in the Southeast United States, which included everything from whitewater rafting in Tennessee, deep sea fishing off the coast of Georgia, visiting Presidential libraries, seeing Churchill Downs in Kentucky and traveling the Lincoln byway and viewing other historical sites.

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