Clarence Cooper (judge)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Clarence Cooper
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
Assumed office
February 9, 2009
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
In office
May 9, 1994 – February 9, 2009
Appointed byBill Clinton
Preceded byRichard Cameron Freeman
Succeeded byMark Howard Cohen
Personal details
Clarence Cooper

(1942-05-05) May 5, 1942 (age 77)
Decatur, Georgia
EducationClark College (B.A.)
Howard University School of Law
Emory University School of Law (J.D.)
Harvard University (M.P.A.)

Clarence Cooper (born May 5, 1942) is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Early life and education[edit]

Cooper was born in Decatur, Georgia. He later moved to the city of Atlanta, where he graduated from David T. Howard High School in 1960. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1964. He received a Juris Doctor from Emory University School of Law in 1967. He is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Cooper received a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1978. He also received a diploma from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in connection with a research proposal he developed.

State judicial career[edit]

He was an Attorney, Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Georgia in 1967. He was in the United States Army from 1968 to 1970. He was an Assistant district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia in 1968 and from 1970 to 1975. He was a judge on the City of Atlanta Municipal Court, Georgia from 1975 to 1980. Cooper was the first African-American appointed to a full-time judgeship on the Atlanta Municipal Court[citation needed] and the first African-American ever elected to a county-wide judgeship on the Fulton Superior Court[citation needed]. He was also the first African American assistant district attorney hired to a State Prosecutor's office in Georgia in 1968[citation needed]. Judge Cooper was the presiding Judge in the trial of convicted Atlanta child murderer, Wayne Williams, for serial killings that occurred in 1979 through 1981. He was a judge on the Fulton Superior Court, Georgia from 1980 to 1990. He was a judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals from 1990 to 1994.

Federal judicial service[edit]

Cooper is a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Cooper was nominated by President Bill Clinton on March 9, 1994, to a seat vacated by Richard Cameron Freeman. Cooper was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 6, 1994, and received commission on May 9, 1994 and he assumed senior status on February 9, 2009.


Cooper ordered an Atlanta school system to remove stickers from textbooks which call the theory of evolution "a theory, not a fact." In the case Selman v. Cobb County School District, he ruled that these stickers are an endorsement of religion and as such violate the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution.[1]

Cooper was assigned to the case of Whitaker v. Perdue, a federal challenge to Georgia House Bill 1059 which requires that registered sexual offenders cannot live or work within 1,000 feet from schools, school bus stops, churches, day care centers, and areas where children gather, such as parks, recreation centers, playgrounds, swimming pools, etc. In July 2006, Judge Cooper issued a restraining order barring enforcement of the law near the vicinity of bus stops. In August, he certified a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all of Georgia's 11,000 registered sex offenders instead of just the eight plaintiffs. On March 30, 2007, the judge dismissed some of the plaintiff's claims from the suit, including the claim that the law represented cruel and unusual punishment; the rest of the case will go forward. Plaintiff's lawyers had until June 1, 2007 to file a new, revised complaint.

Personal life[edit]

Cooper has a wife, Shirley Cooper, who was the first black food service coordinator for Atlanta-Fulton County school system. Cooper has two children: Jennae Marie Cooper, also known as J. Marie Cooper, a film producer and author of children's book The Candy Judge; and son Corey Cooper works in computer technology.

Namesake awards[edit]

  • Judge Clarence Cooper Judicial Section Award ( this award is given to jurists for outstanding service to the judiciary and the community).
  • Judge Clarence Cooper Legacy Award

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 2003 Hall of Fame
  • 2010 Trumpet Award Honoree IMDB
  • 2011 Emory History Makers


  1. ^ "Judge nixes evolution textbook stickers". MSNBC. 2005-01-13. Archived from the original on 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2009-02-28.


Legal offices
Preceded by
Richard Cameron Freeman
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
Succeeded by
Mark Howard Cohen