Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with Judge Kim Cooks, the presiding judge of the 225th Family District Court and Protective Order Court in Dallas County. She was elected in November 2014 and has been the presiding judge since January 2015 and January 2020 respectively. She is currently up for re-election to her third term.
AALM: Describe your style in the courtroom?
KC: The 255th Family District Court welcomes every person with dignity and assurance of equal justice. I am punctual, the 255th court is efficient, there is order with the expectation that everyone will treat one another with respect, the parties will have the opportunity to be heard, and the parties will receive an oral as well as written rendition of the court’s ruling at the close of trial. I take the cases very seriously being that family matters are serious.
AALM: Do you have any advice for attorneys trying a case before your bench?
KC: Attorneys trying cases before the 255th Court or any court should be prepared. Attorneys should know the facts of their case, they should have a strategy as to how they will present their case, know their exhibits, know the opposing side’s argument, prepare their clients for testifying and advise them on their appearance. Attorneys should make sure that their pleadings match their requested relief. A summary of requested relief should be provided to the court at the start of trial. Be straight forward with presenting your case, and know that it is not necessary to be repetitive with the testimony.
AALM: How did you decide to become an attorney?
KC: Growing up, I always wanted to be a doctor. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in biology with a minor in business management. During college I worked as a medical technologist in a hospital laboratory in the hematology department. I was turned off from the medical profession after interacting with a couple of doctors who possessed the “God Superiority Complex,” and by the way they treated patients without compassion. I was a pre-medical student until my senior year in college, then I changed my mind to go to law school so I could sue doctors for medical malpractice. Upon graduating law school my purpose in life must have been to help people due to the focus of my law practice being family and criminal law.
AALM: What do you love about your job?
KC: I love everything about my job. I have the opportunity to mend broken families, create new families, protect children, do what is in the best interest of the children, assist parents with finding jobs, and cool down conflict with workable solutions. It’s awesome to see people change for the better. I also love being able to have input on family law legislation.
AALM: What do you find most challenging about your profession?
KC: As a judge everything I do on the job as well as in my personal life is scrutinized. I have grown to develop super tough skin in order to ignore the fake news and negativity. As a judge being around attorneys, certain people, or at a certain type of social events, may give the impression of bias or impartiality. I love people and miss socializing. My circle of trusted, loyal friends is small and that makes the judicial profession very lonely.
AALM: What do you do in your spare time? Hobbies?
KC: I am a health, fitness, and wellness fanatic. I was featured in the June 2017 Texas Bar Journal as a judge who is a bodybuilder. Since then I have become an IFBB Professional Bikini Bodybuilder and a personal trainer. In my spare time I compete in bodybuilding competitions. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I work on protecting my mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing by channeling my energy toward positivity. I also love to travel and experience different cultures.
AALM: How are you involved with the local community?
KC: I love giving back to the community. I am extremely involved in the Dallas County community. My community involvement started when I was in college tutoring kids in an after-school program in West Dallas. For the past 13 years I have collected wishes for children who unfortunately have to remain in foster care during Christmas. I give away books to children at the Mayor’s Back to School Fair, so that they will have books to read at home. I frequently speak at schools and community events. I have been a mentor to numerous young ladies. I have had high school, college, and law school interns. I want my community to know that I’m involved and reachable.
AALM: Do you have any mentors? What are some of the most important lessons they taught you?
KC: I have two judicial mentors. One is Retired Judge Belinda Hill of the 230th Criminal District Court in Harris County, Texas. I interned for Judge Hill my second and third year in law school. She was punctual, well-respected for her no-nonsense approach, she always looked immaculate, and was very intelligent. She inspired me to want to be a judge because I thought of her as the epitome of a judge. My style as a judge emulates Judge Hill.
My second mentor is Retired Judge Dean Rucker of the 318th District Court in Midland County, Texas. I met Judge Rucker in Judge School when he was the teacher for the new family and juvenile judges. Judge Rucker told me repeatedly that when I take the bench I am to “Rule and Run.” He advised me to make a ruling immediately while the testimony and evidence is fresh on my mind and then step off the bench. I took heed to his advice from the first day on the bench. Judge Rucker has imparted so much of his wisdom to
me and for that I am grateful.
AALM: Share any other information about yourself that you think our readers would enjoy.
KC: I am an extremely proud mother to an intelligent, handsome 17-year-old son, Adam. He is a high school senior and the joy of being his mother has no comparison. As a single mother, I remembered the numerous times when I took my son to court with me while I practiced law. At this point in my son’s life, I want him to observe the IV-D Child Support Courts in hopes of it being a deterrent to him becoming a young father. Yes, this is the mentality of a family law judge mom who wants nothing but the best!