Charles Johnson, by his own description, is a bit of an enigma. He’s African American, a former professional football player, a criminal defense attorney, and running as a conservative in the campaign for the 263rd Judicial Court as District Judge. With his strong Christian roots and conservative politics, he faces a lot of questions and judgements from his peers.
“I represent something dangerous to liberals and democrats,” explained Johnson. “I’m not what anyone expects from a black athlete, and as a result, I’ve faced a barrage of criticism. My faith is the only thing that has sustained me through this campaign. An ad I ran in Katy Christian Magazine mentioned that I’m 100 percent pro-life. An opponent actually filed an ethics complaint against me for my expression of freedom of speech and religion. My opponents want to stop me before I can inspire others. But I am free, l love the lord, and I believe in conservative values. I have no desire to be on their plantation. Instead, I will try to free other minds.”
Johnson’s convictions came at a young age and were instilled by his parents. They taught him to “achieve the next thing,” and never to rest on his laurels. At 13, after qualifying for the Duke Program, he traveled to Austin, where he wandered into the UT School of Law Library and developed an instant fascination with the law. He went on to earn top academic honors, including the National Merit Scholarship and All American status for both track and football. In addition, he earned a full ride football scholarship through college, followed by an offer to play in the NFL.
He was drafted by the Denver Broncos, then went on to play for the New York Giants and the Houston Oilers. Despite the fame and fortune, his time in the NFL didn’t change the man he was raised to be. “I was raised on church, prayer, working hard, and striving for the next achievement. I was playing football, but my plan was to go to law school.”
Johnson did just that, graduating from the University of Houston Law Center and beginning an 18-year legal career. “As a criminal defense lawyer, I have laid hands on the worst of the worse in our society. They deserve fair representation and a fair trial. But I’ve never taken my eyes off the victims, people who woke up and went about their day never knowing they were about to become victims. In this next phase of my career, I want to take my talents and help administer justice for these people.”
As Johnson says, he is a believer in our system of checks and balances so that those who regulate us don’t become our rulers. As judge, he hopes to undo what he sees as the damage caused in 2016, when liberals were voted into the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office. His number one priority is to make Harris County a safe place where people have respect for law enforcement. “We need someone who makes the hard choices and stands for something. Tough on crime is definitely better than the liberal bent,” he said.
He also hopes to model work ethic and ethics in general to the younger generation. “I believe in the protection of citizenry and enforcement of law. I want to inspire other young black men to be conservative, worship God, and do the right thing – and show them that it’s much more cool than being a part of the culture of vulgarity, death, drugs, and sex. I want them to become successful by working hard.”
His upbringing and Christian convictions have inspired him to leave a lucrative job and enter politics, something he had never intended for his life. His message to young people and to the people of Harris County is this: “The battle for the soul of this state and this country is very important to me. The world has winners and losers, but if you work your butt off and don’t complain, blame someone else, or take what someone else has, you’ll win more than you lose. You get to write your own ticket and develop your own destiny.”