Council of Five

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This article is about the Judge Dredd comic strip. For the Japanese history article, see Council of Five Elders.

The Council of Five is a legislature and court in the Judge Dredd comic strip appearing in 2000 AD. It first appeared in 2000 AD prog 86 (1978), when it was said to simply be a court for senior judges: "a council of five." When it appeared again in prog 182 (1980), it was then said to be the governing body of Mega-City One.

The Council is the highest lawmaking body of Mega-City One and has sovereign power. It is also the court which tries Mega-City judges who are accused of breaking the law. A unanimous verdict is required to convict.[1]

Members of the Council are appointed or dismissed by the chief judge,[2] currently (as of January 2015) Barbara Hershey.[3] Originally the chief judge chaired council meetings and had the right of veto, and if the offices of chief judge and deputy chief judge were both vacant, the Council chose the new chief judge from among their number.[2] However in the 1995 story "The Decision," set in 2117, the constitution was changed, so that the chief judge is no longer a member of the Council but is now separate (it is not clear whether the chief judge's veto was preserved); however the chief judge will usually still attend meetings.[4] The deputy chief judge (if one has been appointed) now chairs meetings, unless the chief judge is present.[5] The appointment of a deputy chief judge must have the consent of the Council.[6] The chief judge is now elected by up to 1,200 senior judges, instead of being chosen by the Council.[7] (See also the Chief Judge article for additional details.)

The Council was created by Judge Goodman when he became chief judge in 2057, initially as a guiding committee.[8] In 2112, Chief Judge McGruder suspended the Council and ruled alone.[9] The Council was reinstated in 2116 by her successor, Judge Volt.[10]

Judge Dredd himself always declined a seat on the Council for most of his career, although he sat temporarily in a vacant seat for the trial of Judge Edgar in 2122, to make up a quorum.[11] However in the last episode of "Tour of Duty" (2010; set in 2132) Dredd finally consented to a permanent appointment, only because Chief Judge Francisco insisted.[3] When Francisco resigned two years later, Dredd announced that he was leaving the Council, and advised the other councillors to do so as well, in order to give incoming Chief Judge Hershey a fresh start.[12] However Hershey kept them on her "interim council."[13]

The Council of Five in 2102 (drawn by Brian Bolland, 1980). Left to right: Quimby, McGruder, Griffin, Pepper, Ecks.

The Council in 2070[edit]

Origins episode 12 (2006) showed the Council just before the Atomic Wars broke out, in 2070.[14] This is the oldest depicted Council of Five.

The members shown were Arlow, Johanssen, Lowther, Judd, and Solomon. The first three have only appeared in that issue. The Chief Judge was not a member of the Council, but attended meetings. It is not known when this arrangement was changed to have the chief judge as a member of the Council, which had happened by 2101 (as seen in prog 86).

Lists of Members of Council of Five since 2101[edit]

These lists begin with the characters who appeared in the first episode of Judge Dredd to name every member of the Council, "Block War," published in 1980 (prog 182).


Name Joined Council Left Council Position held
Bachmann 2134
(Interim council)
Killed, 2134 Head of Black Operations
Provisional head of Undercover Operations Division
(appointed after joining Council)
Beeny 2137 Incumbent Street judge
Benedetto 2132 Resigned, 2132 Unknown at time of joining Council
Head of PSU (appointed after joining Council)
Benitez 2131 Resigned, 2132 Joint head of Forensics
Buell 2123 Resigned, 2131 Head of SJS
2132 Incumbent
Brufen 2108 Assassinated, 2110 Head of Tek-Division
Cardew 2131 Resigned, 2132 Unknown before 2132
Deputy Chief Judge from 2132
Creed 2104 Dismissed, 2108 Street judge
Dredd 2122 Served only one day Street judge
2132 Expected to resign after the end
of 2134's interim council, but current status
not revealed (as of October 2015)
Ecks 2101 Killed in Apocalypse War, 2104 Head of Psi Division
Folger 2134
(Interim council)
Assassinated, 2134 Acting head of Wally Squad
Griffin 2101 Assassinated, 2104 Chief Judge (2101–2104)
Grimlet 2108 Killed in action, 2112 Street judge
Herpert 2104 Dismissed, 2108 Street judge
Herriman 2116 Assassinated, 2120 Deputy Chief Judge
Hershey 2108 Elected chief judge, 2122 Street judge until 2120
Deputy Chief Judge (2120–2122)
Chief Judge (2122–2131)
Hollister 2123 Resigned, 2131 Undercover judge
McGruder 2101 Resigned 2108 Head of SJS until 2104
Chief Judge (2104–2108)
Council suspended 2112 to 2116 Chief Judge (2112–2116)
McTighe 2120 Resigned, 2131 Head of Tek-Division
2134 Assassinated, 2137
Millan 2131 Resigned, 2132 Unknown
Niles 2116 Resigned, 2131 Head of SJS until 2122
Head of PSU after 2122
2132 Assassinated, 2134 Head of PSU
Odell 2110 Suicide, 2112 Tutor at Academy of Law
Omar 2104 Killed in action, 2108 Head of Psi Division
Pepper 2101 Assassinated, 2103 Deputy Chief Judge
Quimby 2101 Killed in Apocalypse War, 2104 Head of Accounts
Ramos 2117 Arrested, 2130 Street judge
Renbow 2104 Dismissed, 2108 Head of Tek-Division
Rolf 2132 Resigned, 2132 Unknown
Shenker 2108 Resigned, 2122 Head of Psi Division
Sherman 2132 Resigned, 2132 Unknown
Silver 2108 Assassinated, 2112 Chief Judge (2108–2112)
Sinfield 2131 Became chief judge, 2132 Deputy Chief Judge
Chief Judge (2132)
Stalker 2131 Resigned, 2132 Public relations
2132 Unknown, possible incumbent
Vass 2132 Resigned, 2134 Unknown
Volt 2116 Political reform, 2117 Chief Judge (2116–2121)
Wriggly 2134 Assassinated, 2137 Unknown
Unknown 2103 Killed in Apocalypse War, 2104 Unknown
Unknown Since 2134 Incumbent Unknown



The following relates only to those individuals listed above (i.e. post-2101):

  • Violent deaths: Of the 36 ex-councillors on the above lists, 16 were removed from the Council by violent death (44%). Three of those were killed by the Dark Judges (Grimlet, Herriman and Silver). Four were killed during the Apocalypse War. Their average term of office was just under 3½ years, compared with over six years among ex-councillors overall.
  • Corruption and incompetence: Of the councillors listed, three were corrupt – Sinfield, Ramos, and Bachmann – of which the first two were sent to the penal colony on Titan. Three of the councillors in 2108 were dismissed for suspect judgement by McGruder; and two, Shenker and Buell, were demoted on separate occasions by Hershey for severe failures in their departments.
  • Terms of office: The longest continuous term served on the Council (since 2101) was 15 years, by Judge Niles (who later served a second term of two years). The shortest term was one day, an ad hoc temporary appointment served by Dredd to fill the seat left vacant when Shenker stepped down. If that is not counted, then the next shortest terms are those of Benedetto, Rolf and Sherman, who only served for a few weeks each.
  • Chief judges: Four councillors became chief judge (McGruder, Silver, Hershey and Sinfield). Two others joined the Council ex officio because they had become chief judge (Griffin and Volt).
  • Backgrounds: Nine councillors were street judges at the time of their elevation to the Council (including Volt and Herriman). The Academy of Law provided four (Griffin, Silver and Pepper were tutors before they became chief and deputy chief judges). Thirteen were heads of their divisions: the SJS, Psi Division and Tek Division providing three judges each, Wally Squad providing two (counting the acting-head), and Accounts and Black Ops one each. (The backgrounds of nine members are not known.)

Other members[edit]

Virgin novels[edit]

Although Chief Judge McGruder abolished the Council of Five at the beginning of her second term of office,[9] some of the Judge Dredd novels published by Virgin Books (1993–1995) still featured the Council during this period. To reconcile this apparent discrepancy, one of the books stated that the Council existed in a purely advisory capacity, with no executive power, and only sat intermittently, as and when required. It consisted of McGruder, Shenker, Hershey, and two others. The identities of the fourth and fifth members varied from book to book, as these characters were frequently killed off. (Since the books were written by four different authors, they were not always consistent with each other, and one book reprised a character a year after he had been killed off in another book.) None of these characters ever appeared in the comics.

In other media[edit]

The Council of Five appeared in the 1995 film Judge Dredd. It featured Chief Judge Fargo (with the title "Chief Justice"), Griffin, McGruder, Silver and a judge called Esposito (who was not in the comic). They were all murdered.

In the IDW comic strip set in 2080 the four councillors assisting Chief Judge Goodman were Bellamy, Russell, Wallace (the sole female Council member) and an un-named judge.


  1. ^ 2000 AD #86
  2. ^ a b 2000 AD #457
  3. ^ a b 2000 AD #1693
  4. ^ 2000 AD #957 and 1545
  5. ^ 2000 AD #1545 and Judge Dredd Megazine vol. 3 #53
  6. ^ 2000 AD prog 1649
  7. ^ 2000 AD #1628
  8. ^ a b 2000 AD #1515
  9. ^ a b 2000 AD #706
  10. ^ 2000 AD #916 and 957
  11. ^ 2000 AD #1179
  12. ^ 2000 AD #1789
  13. ^ 2000 AD #1803
  14. ^ 2000 AD #1516
  15. ^ 2000 AD #86 and 89
  • References used for lists: 2000 AD #182, 201, 270, 455, 457, 551, 668, 706, 734, 915, 957, 1178, 1179, 1271, 1595, 1633, 1649, 1667, 1674, 1678, 1689, 1693, 1700, 1775, 1783, 1789, 1803, 1806, 1812, 1878, 1943; Judge Dredd Megazine vol. 3 #40, 53; Judge Dredd Megazine #365, 367