David Berchelmann

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David Adolph Berchelmann, Jr.

Judge of the Texas 290th District Court (Bexar County)
In office
Preceded by New position

Judge of the
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
In office

Judge of the Texas 37th District Court (Bexar County)
In office
Preceded by Ann-Marie Cerda Aaron
Succeeded by Michael Mery

Born July 14, 1947
San Antonio, Texas, USA
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Dona Becker Berchelmann
Children Ashley, Shelby, and David, III

David, Sr., and Nancye Doles Berchelmann

Residence San Antonio, Texas
Alma mater St. Mary's University

St. Mary's University School of Law (both in San Antonio)

Occupation Attorney, mediator

Retired judge

Religion Roman Catholic

David Adolph Berchelmann, Jr. (born July 14, 1947),[1] is a retired judge from his native San Antonio, Texas. A Republican, he served briefly on the statewide nine-member Texas Court of Criminal Appeals but for twenty-eight years in two district courts in populous Bexar County.


Berchlemann is the son of an obstetrician, David Berchelmann, Sr. (1919-2007), a graduate of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine who was a physician in the United States Navy during World War II, and the former Nancye Doles . His grandfather, Adolph George Berchelmann, I (1885-1964), was also a physician. His brother is Adolph G. Berchelmann, III, of San Antonio; another brother, George Michael Berchelmann, is deceased. He has four sisters, Constance Joy Allovio of Hewitt in McLennan County, Texas; Nancye Theresa Flasch of San Antonio; Mary Ellen Tallerico of Edmond, Oklahoma, and Penny Anne Muller of Denver, Colorado. Berchelmann and his wife, the former Dona Becker (born 1947), have three children, Ashley, Shelby, and David Berchelmann, III.[2]

In 1970, Berchelmann received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Government from St. Mary's University in San Antonio, of which in 2011, he was named an "Outstanding Graduate." He procured his law degree in 1973 from St. Mary's School of Law.[3]


From 1973 to 1980, Berchelmann was an associate in the San Antonio law firm of Thurmond & Clark and an assistant district attorney for Bexar County. In 1981, Governor Bill Clements appointed Berchelmann judge of the newly established 290th District Court in Bexar County.[3] That same year, Clements named another Republican, Tom Rickhoff, judge of the newly created 289th District Court and the Republican David Peeples to the 285th District Court. In 1982, Berchelmann, Rickhoff, Peeples, and a fourth Republican, Roy Barrera, Jr., were the first Republicans ever elected to district court judgeships in Bexar County; their victories came despite Clements' defeat for reelection in the gubernatorial election at the hands of the Democrat Mark White.[4] Rickhoff, later judge of the Texas Court of Appeals for the 4th District, and from 2001 to 2018 a judge of the probate court in Bexar County and like Berchelmann an alumnus of both St. Mary's and its law school.[5]

In his first month on the 290th Court, Berchelmann held the entire San Antonio City Council in contempt of court after the governing body allegedly annexed two subdivisions in conflict with a previous court order. He fined each member $500 until the vote was retracted. According to Berchelmann, the council members "did something they were told they couldn't do. ... both sides got together and resolved it after I caught all the grief."[6]

In 1989, Governor Clements in his second nonconsecutive term appointed Berchelmann as the first Republican to serve on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in more than a century. Berchelmann was defeated the next year in his bid for a full term on the appeals court. In the same election, the Democrat Ann Richards won the governorship over Republican Clayton Wheat Williams, Jr. (1931-2020) Berchelmann later said that his loss was a "blessing" because he found that he preferred district court trial work to sitting in three-judge panels for appeals. The Court of Criminal Appeals has since become all Republican.In the 1992 general election, Berchelmann was elected judge of the Texas 37th District Court in Bexar County, having narrowly unseated the Democratic incumbent, Ann-Marie Cerda Aaron, 187,681 votes (50.6 percent) to 183,588 (49.5 percent).[7]

One of Berchelmann's most visible cases was in 2009, when as 37th District judge he was named "special master" over an ethics hearing involving Court of Criminal Appeals Chief Justice Sharon Keller of Dallas. He told The San Antonio Express-News: "None of it's ever easy. ... We affect somebody's life."[6] Berchelmann ruled that "there is a valid reason why many in the legal community are not proud of Judge Keller's actions." However, he said that she had violated no law or ethical rule, and recommended no further sanction against her "beyond the public humiliation she has surely suffered".[8]

Berchelmann remained on the 37th District Court until January 2013. He did not seek a sixth term in 2012. A Democrat, Michael Mery, defeated Art Rossi, who had been unopposed as the Republican nominee to succeed Berchelmann. Mery polled 267,338 votes (54 percent); Rossi, 227,401 (46 percent).[9] In 2013, as he stepped down, Judge Berchelmann advised new judges: "Be open-minded and be as fair as [you] possibly can. Just listen. There's less black and white the longer you've done this."[6]

After he left the bench, Berchelmann joined the law firm of Naman, Howell, Smith & Lee, in which he maintains a mediation practice. He is also a visiting judge on call. Berchelmann is a past president of the Catholic Lawyers Guild and has served on the boards of St. Mary's University Alumni Association, the Downtown San Antonio YMCA, Alamo Kiwanis International, and the St. Mary’s Youth Drop-In Center.[3]

Upon his death, Berchelmann will be interred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.[10] His father and grandfather are interred at San Fernando Cemetery No. 2 in San Antonio.[11]


  1. David Berchelmann, Jr. (R). txdirectory.com. Retrieved on July 30, 2020.
  2. Dr. David Adolph Berchelmann, Sr.. porterloring.com. Retrieved on March 4, 2015; material no longer accessible on-line.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Berchelmann, Hon. David (Ret.). namanhowell.com. Retrieved on July 30, 2020.
  4. History of the Republican Party of Bexar County. bexargop.org. Retrieved on March 4, 2015; material no longer accessible on-line.
  5. Judge Rickhoff's Bio. tomrickhoff.blogspot.com (July 30, 2020).
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Craig Kapitan, "Judges hanging up their robes," San Antonio Express-News, January 2, 2013.
  7. Texas Secretary of State, Election Returns, November 3, 1992.
  8. Special Master's Findings of Fact. scjc.state.tx.us.
  9. Texas Secretary of State, Election Returns, November 6, 2012.
  10. David Adolph Berchelmann. cemetery.state.tx.us. Retrieved on July 30, 2020.
  11. Dr. David Berchelmann, Sr.. findagrave.com. Retrieved on July 30, 2020.