Paula Goodhart has practiced criminal law for 29 years. She is the former award-winning judge of Harris County Criminal Court-at-Law #1 where she served for more than 8 years. Before being appointed, and subsequently elected, Paula served as felony chief prosecutor at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office where she worked for 14 years. She has tried more than 100 jury trials as an attorney and as a judge presided over more than 200 jury trials. She was elected by her peers to serve as the Presiding Judge of the Harris County Criminal Courts at Law and has repeatedly received the highest ratings by attorneys voting in the Houston Bar Association Judicial poll. She was instrumental in developing the young offender S.O.B.E.R. (Saving Ourselves By Education and Recovery) court addressing the needs of young repeat D.W.I. offenders while ensuring public safety. Since 2019, Paula has worked at the law firm of Shellist, Peebles, McAlister. She and her husband, a retired Assistant District Attorney, have four grown children and one grandchild. Paula has the experience, leadership and knowledge to be the next judge of Harris County Criminal Court at Law #2.
Harris County Attorney’s Office 1993-2007:
While in law school started working as an intern at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office
14- year former Harris County Assistant District Attorney hired by DA Johnny Holmes. Former felony chief prosecutor. Handled thousands of criminal cases. Tried over 100 Jury trial including capital murder, human trafficking, aggravated robberies and sexual assaults.
Worked with federal agents and local police targeting human traffickers
Taught criminal law at the Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Houston Fire Department, and Pasadena Police Department.
As an Assistant District Attorney
Graduate of the National College of District Attorney
Award of Commendation by the Director of the Transportation Security Administration
Victim Witness Program Award for outstanding service on behalf of crime victims
Federal Bureau of Investigation commendation for exceptional service in the public interest for work on human trafficking cases
As a Private Attorney
J. Frank Dobie Hall of Honor honoree
Texas Criminal Defense Attorney’s Association President’s Award.
4th Judge to be elected to CCCL #1 since it was created
1st female to be elected to CCCL #1
From 2014 to 2018, presided over one of five specialty S.O.B.E.R. D.W.I. court dockets (Saving Ourselves by Education and Recovery).
SOBER court is multi-stakeholder collaborative team effort designed to target high risk DWI offenders. The mission of SOBER court is to increase public safety while reducing recividism.
Presided over the young offender S.O.B.E.R. D.W.I. court for individuals ages 17-30.
Elected by Judicial colleagues to serve as the Presiding Judge of the Harris County Criminal Courts at Law in 2017.
Elected by Judicial colleagues to serve as the Administrative Judge of the Harris County Courts (both civil and criminal).
Presided over more than 200 jury trials.
Handled more than 34,000 from 2010-2018.
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers Judicial Service Award
Texas Center for the Judiciary Spotlight on Success Award for the Harris County S.O.B.E.R. D.W.I. Courts
Mothers Against Drunk Driver Judicial Service Award to the S.O.B.E.R. D.W.I. court judges
Texas Center for the Judiciary Faculty of the Year Award
Commended by the Harris County Commissioner’s Court for 10 years of excellence in the S.O.B.E.R. D.W.I. court program
Recipient of the Houston Bar Association’s Presidents award for excellence in Service during Hurricane Harvey
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers Policy Setter Award for the S.O.B.E.R. D.W.I. Courts