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] When making decisions that affect the city they have been shown to generally make decisions that favour Judges (and their power over the city) over the citizens' personal and private lives and beliefs. Regardless of what the people might think or see it as, they do sometimes try and keep some of these decisions a secret (such as mass surveillance cameras and microphones in all new blocks built after Chaos Day). As Judge Buell once put it, "Pardon me for being picky, but when have we ever cared about what the people think?"[2] When pushed though they do rarely make minor compromises to the citizens, but these often have no real effect on the city or the peoples lives and just play off their general stupidity or greed (Chief Judge Hershey's words[3]) to get them to tow the line; an example of these would to legalise the ownership of a single small goldfish without a licence and offering to pay citizens a token amount to behave over Christmas (the citizens saw it as an act of good will and a minor victory, it was actually cheaper then arresting and imprisoning them).[4]

Members of the Council are appointed or dismissed by the chief judge,[5] currently (as of January 2017) Barbara Hershey.[6] 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.[5] 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.[7] The deputy chief judge (if one has been appointed) now chairs meetings, unless the chief judge is present.[8] The appointment of a deputy chief judge must have the consent of the Council.[9] The chief judge is now elected by up to 1,200 senior judges, instead of being chosen by the Council.[10] (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.[11] In 2112, Chief Judge McGruder suspended the Council and ruled alone.[12] The Council was reinstated in 2116 by her successor, Judge Volt.[13]

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.[14] 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.[6] 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.[15] However Hershey kept them on her "interim council."[16]

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.[17] 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).

By person[edit]

Name Joined Council Left Council Position held
Bachmann 2134
(Interim council)
2134 (killed) Head of Black Operations
Provisional head of Undercover Operations Division
(appointed after joining Council)
Beeny 2137 Incumbent Street judge
Benedetto 2132 2132 (resigned) Unknown at time of joining Council
Head of PSU (appointed after joining Council)
Benitez 2131 2132 (resigned) Joint head of Forensics
Buell 2123 2131 (resigned) Head of SJS
2132 Unknown (2136 or 2137)
Brufen 2108 2110 (assassinated) Head of Tek-Division
Cardew 2131 2132 (resigned) Unknown before 2132
Deputy Chief Judge from 2132
Creed 2104 2108 (dismissed) Street judge
Dredd 2122 2122 (served only one day) Street judge
2132 2134
(also on 2134 interim council)
Ecks 2101 2104 (klled in Apocalypse War) Head of Psi Division
Farrow Since 2134 Incumbent Unknown
Folger 2134
(Interim council)
2134 (assassinated) Acting head of Wally Squad
Griffin 2101 2104 (assassinated) Chief Judge (2101–2104)
Grimlet 2108 2112 (killed in action) Street judge
Hernandez Since 2134 Incumbent Unknown
Herpert 2104 2108 (dismissed) Street judge
Herriman 2116 2120 (assassinated) Deputy Chief Judge
Hershey 2108 2122 (elected chief judge) Street judge until 2120
Deputy Chief Judge (2120–2122)
Chief Judge (2122–2131; 2134–present)
Hollister 2123 2131 (resigned) Undercover judge
McGruder 2101 2108 (resigned) Head of SJS until 2104
Chief Judge (2104–2108)
Council suspended 2112 to 2116 Chief Judge (2112–2116)
McTighe 2120 2131 (resigned) Head of Tek-Division
2134 2137 (assassinated)
Millan 2131 2132 (resigned) Unknown
Niles 2116 2131 (resigned) Head of SJS until 2122
Head of PSU after 2122
2132 2134 (assassinated) Head of PSU
Odell 2110 2112 (suicide) Tutor at Academy of Law
Omar 2104 2108 (killed in action) Head of Psi Division
Pepper 2101 2103 (assassinated) Deputy Chief Judge
Quimby 2101 2104 (killed in Apocalypse War) Head of Accounts Division
Ramos 2117 2130 (arrested and dismissed) Street judge
Renbow 2104 2108 (dismissed) Head of Tek-Division
Rolf 2132 2132 (resigned) Unknown
Shenker 2108 2122 (resigned) Head of Psi Division
Sherman 2132 2132 (resigned) Unknown
Silver 2108 2112 (assassinated) Chief Judge (2108–2112)
Sinfield 2131 2132 (became chief judge) Deputy Chief Judge
Chief Judge (2132)
Stalker 2131 2132 (resigned) Public relations
2132 Unknown (between 2134 and 2137)
Vass 2132 2134 (resigned) Unknown
Volt 2116 2117 (constitutional reform) Chief Judge (2116–2121)
Waldron 2136 or 2137 Incumbent SJS
Wriggly Since 2134 2137 (assassinated) Unknown
Unknown 2103 2104 (killed in Apocalypse War) Unknown
Unknown 2134 Unknown (2136 or 2137) Unknown
Unknown 2137 Incumbent Head of Tek Division



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

  • Violent deaths: Of the 37 ex-councillors on the above lists, 16 were removed from the Council by violent death (43%). 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). Fourteen were heads of their divisions: four from Tek-Division, the SJS and Psi Division providing three judges each, Wally Squad providing two (counting the acting-head), and Accounts and Black Ops one each. (The backgrounds of ten 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,[12] 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. ^ Day of Chaos 2000 AD #1743–1789
  3. ^ 2000AD prog 2017
  4. ^ 2000AD Prog 2017
  5. ^ a b 2000 AD #457
  6. ^ a b 2000 AD #1693
  7. ^ 2000 AD #957 and 1545
  8. ^ 2000 AD #1545 and Judge Dredd Megazine vol. 3 #53
  9. ^ 2000 AD prog 1649
  10. ^ 2000 AD #1628
  11. ^ a b 2000 AD #1515
  12. ^ a b 2000 AD #706
  13. ^ 2000 AD #916 and 957
  14. ^ 2000 AD #1179
  15. ^ 2000 AD #1789
  16. ^ 2000 AD #1803
  17. ^ 2000 AD #1516
  18. ^ 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, 1973, 1976; Judge Dredd Megazine vol. 3 #40, 53; Judge Dredd Megazine #365, 367