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Mary Lou Keel

Education and Legal Career Before Taking the Bench


Mary Lou Keel graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in English in 1982.  She received her JD from the University of Houston in 1985.


From 1985 to 1986 she worked as a briefing attorney at the First Court of Appeals in Houston.  


In 1986 she began work for the Harris County District Attorney's Office as a trial prosecutor and then as an appellate prosecutor, representing the state in the intermediate appellate courts and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Judicial Experience

Keel was elected to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 2016 and declared elected in 2022 after running unopposed for re-election.


She served as judge of the 232nd District Court in Harris County from 1995 through 2016.  She served as the wiretap judge for the Second Administrative Judicial Region of Texas from 2009 through 2016.

She has been board certified in criminal law since 1990.  

Judge Keel has been a speaker at conferences and seminars for judges, lawyers, police officers, and licensed court interpreters.




Judge Keel is proficient in Spanish and has served as a volunteer interpreter for the website  This website helps give voice to the dissident and independent writers in Cuba who suffer repression under the communist dictatorship.


She has also served as an interpreter for the Houston Volunteer Lawyer Project.


In the past she served on the Houston Bar Association Bench-Bar Pro Bono Awards Committee, and the boards of the Houston Read Commission and the Texas Center for Adolescent Rehabilitation and Education, and she served as a volunteer judge for the Family Law Evening Court project.


Personal Background


Keel met her husband, Jim Hippard, Jr., in law school, and they have three children.  The oldest, Greer, is a registered nurse.  The second, Connor, is a Texas Tech business school alum working in commercial plumbing in Houston.  Their youngest, Colleen, is an artist. 


Judge Keel grew up in Austin with her five brothers and a cousin.  


She enjoys reading, gardening and playing pickleball.

Judge Mary Lou Keel with husband Jim Hippard

With Jim on Mother's Day 2016

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Thanksgiviing 2017 with my boys


Alta 2019.  Helmet hair cracks us up.

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Sibling birthday lunch 2021

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"Courreges" women, Christmas 2018

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