When Michele Van Stavern was nominated for Midland College Homecoming Queen in 1999,
she wrote in her bio that she wanted to be a judge. In June 2021, 43-year-old Van
Stavern realized her goal. She is now Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1 in Kendall
“When I was growing up I had a friend whose mother was a municipal court judge,’ Van
Stavern explained. “I guess that’s what put the thought in my mind that I wanted
to be a judge, as well. I took a long route getting here, but it’s been a great ride!”
She spent her early years in Vernal, UT and later moved to Wyoming with her family
when she was in high school. The summer after high school graduation, she traveled
to Midland to help care for her aunt’s sons.
“I thought my move to West Texas would be just temporary, but I really liked it, so
I started taking classes at Midland College.” Van Stavern said. “I attended classes
and worked part-time as a clerk in the office of the Vice President of Instruction.
The college president’s office was right across the hall, and one day the president
of Student Government, a guy named Mykal, was visiting with the MC president who at
that time was Dr. David Daniel. I guess Dr. Daniel was somewhat of a ‘matchmaker,’
because he came out of his office and told me that I needed to meet Mykal. So, I
did what he told me, and now Mykal and I have been married for 20 years and have three
While at Midland College, Michele was active in the Latin American Student Association
and also facilitated Teen Court on Monday evenings. She claimed that the Teen Court
experience was another instigator of her desire to one day be a judge. In May, 1999,
Michele graduated from Midland College with an Associate of Applied Science degree
in Criminal Justice and transferred to Texas Tech.
“My original thought was that I would transfer to a college in my home state of Utah,
but I followed Mykal to Texas Tech, instead,” she said.
The couple eventually moved to Amarillo and then Dallas. After their first two children
were born, they moved back to Midland, and Michele went to work for the Midland County
Sheriff’s Department. After her third child was born, she resigned from the Sheriff’s
Department and worked part-time for the Midland College Police Department as a dispatcher.
“Midland College needed more licensed police officers, so they sponsored me to go
through the police academy and obtain my Texas Law Enforcement license,” Van Stavern
explained. “While working at Midland College, I was also assigned to the U.S. Marshal’s
Fugitive Task Force in Midland. Every-other Thursday, I would report to the federal
courthouse and help the marshal’s office, mainly serving warrants. I then worked
for the MC Police Department for two years and then went back to the Sheriff’s Department
as a crime scene investigator.”
In 2015, Mykal’s job took the family to the San Antonio area, and they settled in
the nearby town of Boerne. In February 2016, Michele accepted a position as a patrol
officer with the Boerne Police Department. She also completed an online bachelor’s
degree in Judicial Administration from Wayland Baptist University.
“I worked nights during my first two years as a patrol officer in Boerne because that
way I could be home in time to get the kids to school and pick them up in the afternoons,”
she explained. “That schedule worked great during the school year. I would sleep
during the day while everyone was gone. However, summer breaks and school holidays
were a little tough. I remember not getting much sleep during those times!”
In 2018, Van Stavern transferred within the Boerne Police Department and became a
School Resource Officer. This gave her an opportunity to have the same hours as her
Then one evening when she was directing traffic after a high school football game,
she was hit by a drunk driver and suffered several broken bones, including a wrist,
elbow and four ribs. She also had traumatic brain injury, a laceration on her left
arm that was cut through her tendons and a torn bicep. Due to massive blood loss,
she went into Hypovolemia shock and received blood transfusions. Although she still
has scars and a “bum” wrist, just 10 weeks after the accident Van Stavern resumed
her duties and received the Boerne Police Department’s Fit for Duty award in 2020
and in 2021. She currently runs three miles every morning.
This past spring, Van Stavern applied to assume the remaining term of the vacant Precinct
1 Justice of the Peace position in Kendall County.
“I wasn’t going to apply, but my coworkers and friends kept encouraging me to do it,”
she explained. “I figured I might as well go ahead and apply. Being a judge had
been a lifelong dream, so I might as well try to make that dream a reality.”
In June, Michele Van Stavern resigned her position with the Boerne Police Department
and began her current responsibilities as Kendall County Judge and Justice of the
“The funny thing is that my family was excited about getting rid of the police radio
that would constantly go off day and night,” she said. “However, my first day as
a judge, I was given a police radio and told that I would need it, so we still have
a radio in the house!”
In her current responsibilities, Van Stavern is responsible for overseeing the daily
activities of the Kendall County Courthouse, the 2nd oldest running courthouse structure
in Texas. She said that her hours run anywhere from 40 to 50 hours per week and include
responding to deaths in the precinct and determining if they are the result of suspicious
cause and whether or not an autopsy needs to be ordered. She is also responsible
for hearing small claims cases—anything from $1 to $25,000—eviction cases, debt claims
and bench trials such as traffic citations that are plead as not guilty. She is one
of four justices in the county, and two have been in their respective positions for
over 30 years.
“I don’t have the years of experience like the other judges, but my experience in
law enforcement definitely helps,” Van Stavern stated.
She and the other three justices take turns being at the jail in the mornings to magistrate
the inmates and set bonds or bail. Her experience working in the Midland County Jail
when she worked for the Sheriff’s Department has served her well in this capacity.
In her spare time, Van Stavern enjoys watching football with Mykal and their children—Shea
who is in her first year at Texas Tech, Cristina who is in the 10th grade and Ray
who is a 5th grader. She also enjoys watching her children sports’ games. This past
year her son Ray started taking Jiujitsu lessons, and Van Stavern draws upon her experience
teaching defensive tactics for the Boerne Police Department to help him.
Van Stavern said that she would like to continue serving as a justice in Kendall County
and is looking forward to her upcoming campaign. Her appointed term will expire on
December 31, 2022.
“Michele is a hard worker and is determined and persistent,” Richard McKee, Midland
College Police Chief, said. “To steal a quote from Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson: She
is “the kind of person who, when her feet touch the ground in the morning, the devil
says, ‘Oh crap! She’s up.’ I have enjoyed working with her and watching her career