Johnson did appeals for a short time, then "went the traditional route" -- moving as a prosecutor from county court traffic cases to be one of the felony trial division chiefs.
In 1996, incoming state attorney Barry Krischer asked her to start the office's domestic violence division.
"At the time, I had no interest, no knowledge, no nothing about domestic violence," she said. A lot of what they did was education -- of the police, victim advocates and themselves.
"It's a very challenging field, but it's also very rewarding because we came a long way in learning how to prosecute them and learning how to deal with the victims of domestic violence so as not to alienate them," she said. "It eventually led to the court system creating the domestic violence division."
Palm Beach Circuit Judge Krista Marx worked with Johnson in the state attorney's office.
"She is just well-intentioned and a really good person," Marx said. "It wasn't about stacking up convictions but making sure that she really understood what the case was about and that all parties were treated fairly."
Johnson said she loved her work but after 18 years "reached the stage where I was ready to move on and do something else."
She applied to the Judicial Nominating Commission. She got nominated but not appointed. She immediately turned around and ran and was elected.
She took the bench in 2003, starting off in the criminal division. She later transferred to civil and in 2009 to the North County Courthouse where she handles a 50-50 split of civil and criminal cases.
It gives her a welcome, and hectic, variety.