Susan E. Criss

Partner

Former District Judge Susan Criss has tried hundreds of cases over nearly thirty years. She spent over half of that time sitting on a Texas district court bench in Galveston, Texas. As a judge she presided over some of the biggest, most complex and high profile litigation in the state. Judge Criss tried the cases arising from the BP March 23, 2005 explosion cases in Texas City, the Hurricane Ike insurance litigation, Paxil settlement conferences and the Robert Durst murder trial.

A sign hung on the door to her courtroom that said “This court belongs to the people.” Judge Criss was known for making certain that the regular people got the same fair trial as the rich and powerful  and corporations. She ordered that Lord Browne, CEO of British Petroleum in London be deposed regarding budget cuts to the Texas City refinery that  compromised worker safety.

Before becoming a judge Susan Criss worked as a prosecutor in the Galveston County Criminal District Attorney Office and then had her own law practice.

Now she is back to doing what she loves most and does best—fighting for people in court.

BOARD CERTIFICATIONS

Susan Criss is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • In aftermath of September 13, 2008 Hurricane Ike participated in re-establishing justice system in Galveston County. Within three days of hurricane set up system to handle emergency orders and to magistrate inmates. By the end of September the courthouse opened for hearings. By November Judge Criss was qualifying jurors for trials.
  • Presided over more than 5000 Hurricane Ike insurance claims.
  • Conducted over 1200 minor settlement hearings in pharmaceutical Paxil claims.
  • Presided over 4,164 claims arising from British Petroleum plant explosion that occurred March 2005 in Texas City, Texas in Cause No. 05CV0337, Miguel Arenzas vs. BP Amoco Chemical Company, Et Al. All claims were disposed of in three years and five months with only two cases appealing the final outcome.
  • Launched the Color of Justice Video Project in Texas. This video features minority judges, lawyers and law students encouraging minority school children to pursue careers in the law and the judiciary
  • Created the first court website in Galveston County. The website informs attorneys, law enforcement, witnesses, jurors, the media and the public about court schedules, policies, rules and necessary juror information
  • Created a “Court Class for Children” section of the website. This class teaches children about what happens in court and what to do if they become witnesses in a trial
  • Launched a program that provides Spanish speaking probationers with written Spanish translations of forms containing probation conditions, rules, terms and other necessary  information.
  • Founder of the Galveston County Child Advocacy Center, Galveston County Child Abuse and Neglect Task Force and the Galveston County Child Fatality Review Task Force

EMPLOYMENT

  • 1999-2013     212th District Court Galveston, Texas District Judge
  • 1996-1998     Law Offices of Susan Criss Galveston, Texas
  • 1987-1996     Galveston County Criminal District Attorney’s Office
  • 1993-1996     Special Prosecutor for Child & Elder Abuse
  • 1983-1984     The Office of the Attorney General of Texas Environmental Protection Division
  • 1981-1982     University of Texas Assistant Ombudsman Austin, Texas

EDUCATION

  • 1986 South Texas College of Law Houston, Texas Doctor of Jurisprudence
  • 1983-1984 University of Texas School of Law Austin, Texas
  • 1982 University of Texas Austin, Texas Bachelor of Arts in Government
  • 1979-1980 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, Texas
  • 1979 La Marque High School La Marque, Texas

AWARDS

  • 26TH Annual Telly Award winner 2005, along with Stonefilms of Texas, Inc. for “The Color of Justice” video, Executive Producer
  •  Fred C. Johnson Foundation “People Who Make A Difference” Honoree 2005 Gulf Coast National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Honoree for 2003
  •  State Bar of Texas Honorary Resolution September 2004 for producing The Color of Justice Video
  • Outstanding Young Lawyer of Galveston County 1994 from the Galveston County Young Lawyers  Association

PROFESIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

  • Texas Criminal Defense Attorneys Association, 2014 to present
  • Harris County Criminal Attorneys Association, 2014 to present
  • Galveston County Criminal Defense Attorneys Association, 1998, 2014 to present
  • The National Association of Women Judges, Member; 2001 to present
  • Galveston County Bar Association, past President; 1996-1997, Member; 1986 to present
  • Bell County Bar Association

PAST PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

  • NAWJ Board of Directors, District 11 Director (Texas, Oklahoma & Arkansas) 2010 to2011, 2004 to 2005, Chairperson of Finance Committee, 2011, 2013
  • The Gulf Coast Center MHMR Jail Diversion Task Force, Chairperson, 2002 to 2004
  • Judicial Section of the Texas State Bar, 1999 to 2103
  • Galveston County Community Supervision & Corrections Board, 1999 to 2013
  • Galveston County Juvenile Probation Board, 1999 to 2013
  • Galveston County Pre-Trial Release Board, 2002 to 2013
  • Galveston County Criminal Courts Board, 2002 to 2013
  • Galveston County Purchasing Board, 2002 to 2013
  • Galveston County Local Law Enforcement Block Grant Advisory Board, 1999
  • Galveston County Young Lawyers Association, 1987 to 1997; Secretary, 1992 to 1993
  • Galveston County Bar Association Pro Bono Committee, 1995 to 1997
  • Texas District and County Attorneys Association, 1987 to 1996
  • Galveston County Child Abuse & Neglect Task Force, Founding Member
  • Galveston County Child Death Review Task Force, Founding Member, 2004
  • NAWJ Board of Directors, District 11 Director (Texas, Oklahoma & Arkansas) 2004 to 2005
  • NAWJ Executive Board, Chair of Finance Committee 2011 to 2013
  • Trial Judges Legislative Committee, Judicial Section of the State bar of Texas, October 12, 2004, 2005

PUBLICATIONS & CLASSES

CLASSES

  • “Judges Panel- Top Ten Things You Should Know” Advanced Personal Injury Law, Panel Member – Houston, Texas September 7, 2012
  • “View From the Bench: Top Ten Things To Do or Avoid” Advanced Personal Injury Law, Panel Member – Houston, Texas September 14, 2011
  • “Social Media: The Good, The Bad and the Lucky”, Panel Member, Texas Minority Counsel Program – Austin, Texas September 7, 2011
  • “Use of Social Media in Litigation” Advanced Civil Trial Course, Panel Member – San Antonio July 23, 2010
  • Invited testimony before Texas House Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness“The Adaptable Lawyer: From the Bench: Social Media Ethics and Etiquette for Lawyers” Texas State Bar Annual Meeting – Fort Worth, Texas June 10, 2010
  • “Know Your Ike Rights”, Panel Member, Houston Business Journal – Houston, Texas April 29, 2010
  • “Ethics in the Courtroom for the New Lawyer” 2010 TADC Trial Academy – Galveston, Texas April 23 to 24, 2010
  • “Social Networking” Leadership State Bar of Texas Brown Bag Lunch Conference Call, Panel Member – April 21, 2010
  • “Social Networks & The Practice of Law” Electronic Filing, Evidence & Computer Technology for Galveston County Attorneys – Galveston, Texas February 25, 2010
  • “First Amendment- Bloggers, Twitters & Communications in the 21st Century” National Association of Women Judges Conference – Memphis, Tennessee October 2009
  • “Courts and New Media Realities: Traditional Media v. Social Media” Co-Presenter, Model Courts All Sites Conference, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges – Newport Beach, California October 7, 2009
  • “When Disaster Strikes: How to Practice When All Hell Breaks Loose”, Panel Member – Houston Bar Association Bench Bar Conference – Galveston, Texas April 24, 2009
  • “Courts and Media in the 21st Century: Twitters, Bloggers, the New Media, Old Media and What’s a Judge to Do?”, Panel Member – ABA Judicial Division, Chicago, Illinois July 31,
  • “Cruel and Unusual Punishment? Scope and Possible Solutions to the Warehousing of the mentally Ill in the Criminal Justice System” co-presenter with Dr. Mike FullerEighth Annual Psychiatric Update, UTMB Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Moody Gardens Hotel, Galveston, Texas March 14, 2003
  • NAMI Gulf Coast Mental Awareness Week “Building Communities of Hope” Dinner Guest Speaker – Alvin, Texas October 3, 2002
  • “A View From the Bench” sponsored by St. Mary’s Law School, Panel Member – Galveston, Texas October 21, 2001 CLE credit
  • “Special Concerns in Treatment and Supervision of Adult Sex Offenders” co-presenter with Dr. Collier Cole – Texas Probation Association Regional Conference, Moody Gardens Hotel, Galveston, Texas January 22, 2001
  • “Growing Older and Wiser in Galveston: The Realities of Aging Conference”, Panel Member – University of Texas Medical School, October 21, 1995
  • “Child Abuse”, Lunch Speaker – Daughters of the American Revolution, October 15, 1994
  • “Medical Evidence in Child Abuse Cases”, Lecturer – Child Protective Services Seminar, October 13, 1994
  • “Laws That Protect Children”, SpeakerUniversity of Houston at Clear Lake Legal Studies Association April 19, 1994
  • Galveston Police Department POST Training, “Elder Abuse”, LecturerUniversity of Houston at Clear Lake Legal Studies Association March, April & June 1994
  • “Sex Offender Treatment”, Panel MemberGalveston County Child Advocacy Project February 15, 1994
  • “Sexual Assault Laws” – Texas City Police Department Training, November 14, 1993
  • “Perpetrator Confessions” Panel MemberChild Abuse and Neglect Task Force Training, November 10, 1993
  • “Child Abuse Laws and Court Procedure”, Lecturer Women’s Resource and Crisis Center of Galveston County, November 1, 1993
  • Galveston County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, Felony Division Training, October 28, 1993
  • “Child Abuse Prosecution”, Rotary Club of West Galveston County October 15, 1993
  • “Child Abuse Laws”, Galveston County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association September 10, 1993
  • Galveston Police Memorial Foundation Ceremony, Speaker, May 12, 2003