Mary Lou Keel

Office Sought: Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2

Occupation: Judge, 232nd District Court

Employer: State of Texas/Harris County



Twitter: @judgemlk



The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is our state’s highest criminal court. The bulk of its caseload consists of felony cases, and its most high-profile rulings involve the death penalty. It has no jurisdiction to hear civil cases or to act as a drug court. Its nine judges are elected statewide.

Mary Lou Keel has served as a felony trial court judge for the 232nd District Court in Harris County since 1995, presiding over hundreds of felony jury trials, including five capital murder cases where the State sought and the jury assessed the death penalty.

She also served Harris County as a prosecutor, representing the State in 279 criminal cases on appeal, including five death penalty cases. Before she was a prosecutor she was a briefing attorney at the First Court of Appeals in Houston. She has far more experience handling criminal appeals than any of her opponents.

She has been Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1990.  

She has served as the wiretap judge for the Second Administrative Judicial Region of Texas since 2009.

Keel is proficient in Spanish and is a volunteer interpreter for Cuban dissidents on the website

Keel met her husband, Jim Hippard, Jr., in law school at the University of Houston, and they have been married for 27 years. They have three children who are now young adults.

Keel grew up in Austin as the only girl in a family of six and is used to being outmanned without necessarily being outmatched. She enjoys reading, cooking and skiing.