Judge Bonnie Sudderth, at age 30, was the youngest judge ever appointed as Chief Judge of the Fort Worth Municipal Courts. Six years later, in 2006, she ran in a contested Republican primary for election to the 352nd District Court bench, winning the seat for a term commencing on January 1, 1997. Because the bench was vacant at the time of her primary election, then-Governor George W. Bush appointed her to fill the vacancy for the remainder of 1996. She has been re-elected three times to the district court bench, and is now serving her fourth term in office. All combined, Judge Sudderth brings more than 20 years of judicial experience to the bench. Judge Sudderth is also Board Certified in both Civil Trial Law and Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
On the bench, Judge Sudderth is generally known for three qualities – a gentle and patient temperament, a common-sense approach to problem solving and a solid understanding of the law, evidence and procedure. “Despite what we see on T.V. and in the movies,” Judge Sudderth explains, “the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct requires that judges be ‘patient, dignified and courteous’ while on the bench. I take my ethical obligations very seriously.”
In 2000, she was elected President of the American Judges Association. In the 2010-2011 term, she served as President of the Eldon B. Mahon Inn of Court. In 2010, her peers – the district judges of Tarrant County – elected her to serve as the Chair of the Tarrant County Juvenile Board.She currently serves on the Court Rules Committee of the State Bar of Texas.
Judge Sudderth also takes time from her duties as a judge to serve as a mentor to young lawyers. In 2008, Judge Sudderth was awarded the Outstanding Mentor Award by the Tarrant County Young Lawyers Association. That same year, she went on to win the statewide award, receiving the Texas Outstanding Mentor Award by the 24,000 member-strong Texas Young Lawyers Association.
Judge Sudderth is a legal scholar and teacher. For more than 10 years, she has served as an Adjunct Law Professor at the Texas Wesleyan School of Law, where Judge Sudderth teaches Texas Trials & Appeals to upper level law students. She also volunteers as a judge for Mock Trial and Moot Court intramural comopetitions. Between the fall and spring semesters, she also teaches a one-week intensive practicum on civil motion practice. Judge Sudderth has received the Distinguished Faculty Award for her service.
Judge Sudderth is well-known for her high ethical standards and her expectation that lawyers who appear before her exhibit the highest standards of ethics and professionalism. In the 1990s, Judge Sudderth served as a Commissioner on the state Judicial Conduct Commission, which is the disciplinary agency for all judges throughout Texas. She is a frequent lecturer on legal and judicial ethics and other topics related to the practice of law.
Judge Sudderth is an award-winning writer, having received the “Outstanding Series of Articles” award by the State Bar of Texas on two separate occasions. She has contributed more than 30 articles to the Tarrant County Bar Bulletin from 2005 to 2008 on topics related to the Texas Rules of Evidence. “Five Adages for Advocates,” a series of five articles Judge Sudderth authored for young lawyers on professionalism and the law appeared on the Texas Wesleyan Law School Board of Trial Advocates website in 2008. Judge Sudderth’s articles also appear in the In Chambers magazine, Court Review magazine and the Municipal Court Recorder.