Elizabeth Davis Frizell
Elizabeth Frizell has been a trailblazing figure in Texas’ legal community for over two decades. As an African-American woman, Frizell has broken barriers to become a respected judge and contender for Dallas County’s top prosecutor. Though falling short in recent bids for higher office, her career reflects a commitment to progressive reforms.
Early Life and Education
Frizell grew up in Texas and earned an undergraduate degree from Prairie View A&M University, a historically Black college northwest of Houston. She then attained her law degree from Texas Southern University, one of the largest HBCUs in the nation.
Private Practice and Municipal Judge
After law school, Frizell gained experience through private practice at her own Dallas firm. She later presided as an associate municipal judge handling local cases. This prepared her for greater judicial responsibilities ahead.
Dallas County Criminal Court Judge
In 2006, Frizell ran for an open seat on the Dallas County Criminal District Court. She won the Democratic primary unopposed then faced no Republican challenger in the general election. At age 36, she became one of the youngest African-American women elected statewide in Texas.
Frizell served for over a decade on the county’s 7th Criminal District Court. She earned a reputation as a thoughtful, fair and engaged judge. In 2014, she won re-election completely unopposed.
Campaigns for Higher Office
Beginning in 2018, Frizell set her sights on more influential positions in the Dallas legal system. She waged competitive campaigns but ultimately lost close primary contests.
2018 District Attorney Primary
After three decades of Republican control, Frizell joined a crowded Democratic field vying to become Dallas County’s next District Attorney. She finished second in the primary behind reformer John Creuzot.
2020 Court of Criminal Appeals
In 2020, Frizell ran for a seat on Texas’ highest criminal court. She won the Democratic nomination but lost the general election to Republican incumbent Bert Richardson.
2022 District Attorney Primary
Frizell launched a rematch against DA John Creuzot in early 2022. The race centered on differing visions for reforming Dallas’ criminal justice system. Creuzot prevailed again, benefiting from high name recognition.
Judicial Philosophy and Issues
Frizell embraced a progressive approach to the law that aligned with reform movements.
Support for Bail Reform
One of Frizell’s priorities was reforming Dallas County’s bail system to reduce reliance on cash bail. She argued it penalized the poor and facilitated mass incarceration.
Reducing Mass Incarceration
In campaigns, Frizell emphasized the need to divert nonviolent offenders into rehabilitation programs rather than jail. She criticized over-criminalization of drug offenses.
Outside the courtroom, Frizell has been active in bar associations and community groups like the NAACP. She is married and has three adult children. Frizell continues to reside and practice law in Dallas.
While falling short in bids for higher office, Elizabeth Frizell continues to be a pioneer for African-American women in law. Her career reflects a commitment to equality and progressive reform. And at just 50 years old, her trailblazing legal journey may still be in its early chapters.
What courts did Elizabeth Frizell serve on?
Frizell served for over 10 years as an elected judge on the Dallas County Criminal District Court No. 7. Prior to that, she was a municipal court judge in Dallas.
When did Frizell first run for Dallas County District Attorney?
Frizell first campaigned to become Dallas County DA in 2018. She lost a close Democratic primary to reformer John Creuzot.
How did Frizell perform in her 2020 statewide race?
In 2020, Frizell was the Democratic nominee for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. She lost in the general election to Republican incumbent Bert Richardson.
What was a key issue in Frizell’s 2022 campaign?
A major focus of Frizell’s second DA run was reforming Dallas’ bail system to reduce reliance on cash bail for nonviolent offenders.
What universities did Frizell attend?
Frizell earned her undergraduate degree from Prairie View A&M University. She attained her law degree from Texas Southern University.