Saturday, August 05, 2006

District Judge Cooper

I have finally met the infamous District Judge Cooper who is referred to by criminal solicitors as 'Custody Cooper'.

I had the joy of going to Colchester Magistrates Court and watched this infamous District Judge in action. District Judge Cooper has a reputation for remanding people in custody where he either thinks that they are a bail risk despite the fact they are already on bail, or, that they need to consider their not guilty plea by being put in the Court cells for a few hours.

For various reasons I was waiting for my case to be dealt with so I had the opportunity of watching District Judge Cooper deal with the majority of a remand list. Some of the highlights included:

1. The three handed bail application. Three defendants appear in custody for a matter that can only be dealt with at the Crown Court. The defence solicitors all suggest that they want to apply for bail. The prosecutor objects to all three being granted bail. The first defendant applies for bail, and is refused. The second defendant applies for bail and is refused. The third defendant then withdraws his bail application knowing that he is going to be refused bail.

2. The bad character application that was reinstated. One case had been listed for the Crown Prosecution Service to make a bad character application for an impending trial. The Prosecutor stated that his colleague had decided to withdraw the application. District Judge Cooper expressed dismay. He then went through the defendant's previous convictions, he told the prosecutor that propensity had clearly been made, and that it was in the interests of the Magistrates who were going to deal with the trial to know about the bad character. He effectively co-erced the prosecutor to relist the matter for a further bad character application to take place.

3. The sentencing monologue. A defendant had appeared in custody on a Saturday morning and had been adjourned to be sentenced in front of District Judge Cooper for a matter of dangerous driving. The first comments to be made by District Judge Cooper when he saw the list of previous convictions for the defendant was, "Why has he not been sent to prison before?" and, "Why has he been given community penalty after community penalty that he has breached?" Despite the best efforts of the solicitor representing this particular defendant District Judge Cooper embarked on a sentencing monologue that lasted for several minutes where he criticised previous Courts for not imposing proper custodial sentences on the defendant. He then refused to sentence the defendant in the Magistrates Court and sent his case to the Crown Court to be sentenced.

District Judge Cooper is very entertaining to watch and if you are ever free on a Thursday morning he is well worth watching at Colchester Magistrates Court. The general public would probably applaud the comments he makes about defendants and approve of his methods. District Judge Cooper is very polite to defendants. It is amusing to think that he appears somewhat hard with defendants when he used to be a defence solicitor himself.

20 comments:

Katy Newton said...

I have happy memories of DJ Cooper when he sat at Greenwich Mags a few years ago. This is my favourite one:

An unrepresented defendant turns up on a bench warrant for a s4A.

Without offering him any representation, Cooper has the clerk go through PBV.

The clerk says, "Are you guilty or not guilty?" and the defendant says, "I don't know."

Cooper: "What do you mean, you don't know, sir?"

Defendant: "It was a year ago. I don't know if I did that one or not."

[Pause]

Cooper: "You probably did, though, didn't you?"

[Pause]

Defendant: "Yeah, probably."

Cooper: "Good! We'll call that a guilty. Let's proceed to sentence, shall we?..."

Actually it's appalling. But you've got to laugh.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I know I shouldn't but I can only applaud DJ Cooper. I'm not saying everthing he says or does is right but isn't it about time we publisised a down to earth District Judge. Let's face it if we elected our judiciary how many more Cooper's would surface?

WigAndGown said...

DJ Cooper is not 'down to earth' - he is a bully who really sees little need for the Prosecution or Defence and simply runs each case by himself. Before people say 'good, who needs lawyers' - remember EVERY case before him goes something like this:

1) Defendant is remanded in custody
2) Defendant pleads guilty or pleads NG and his representative is haranged for 20 minutes
3) If the defendant still has the temerity to maintain his not guilty plea at trial, he is convicted
4) He receives a custodial sentence or is committed for sentence (much to the annoyance of most of the Judges at Chelmsford CC)

Sort of like Judge John Deed but with far, far less charm

Gavin said...

"Sort of like Judge John Deed but with far, far less charm". But I thought Judge John Deed found most of the Defendants not guilty.

Anonymous said...

Katy Newton:

So defendant was a serial and habitual criminal who can't remember whether he comitted a particular crime. Sounds pretty guilty to me...

Anonymous said...

It is amusing to think that he appears somewhat hard with defendants when he used to be a defence solicitor himself.

A cynic would suggest that as an ex-defence solicitor, he has a rather more realistic view of the guilt of defendants than the average man.

Anonymous said...

I agree - former defence solicitors turned DJ seem to be much harsher, in my experience. Something of the 'heard it all before and didn't believe it when I used to spout it,' perchance ?

And whilst on the subject of Deed - my favourite EVER was the boxer up for attempted murder, and Deed decided that he'd change the indictment to a S47 and then give him a conditional discharge ! Class.....

Bystander said...

Most old-time policemen yearn for the return of the bollocking stipe.

I had hoped that they were gone.

Perhaps wrongly.

Bystander said...

I spoke to a DJ yesterday and asked if he knew DJ Cooper. He does know him and his comments accord with yours.
Off the record of course.

Anonymous said...

As a police officer in South London I never gave evidence in front of DJ Cooper but he is such a legend that old time lags still ask if he is sitting when you refuse bail. They all appear to have respect for him however. Oh to be a custody officer in Colchester!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps he saw the light and realised that he was fed up representing all these lying cheating scumbags that your profession continually make excuses for.......more like DJ cooper please

Anonymous said...

My son has not been in trouble before, he was in front of Judge Cooper, JC did not look at the PSR reports-CPS reports-Statements or look at the CCTV correctly-all he said as another fight in town. My son was the one trying to stop the fight!-JC sent him to prison the ones who caused it did not even get charged-i thought this is what CCTV is for???. Where is the justice that used to be in this counrty

Anonymous said...

I was sent to colchester magistrates prepared to be put in custody for class a drugs offence i had been put on bail by the police. Then six weeks later appear at colchester mag in front of jc my solicitor told me i would be remamded 100% to my suprise he bails me with strict conditions although the case is still ongoing i felt he was rather fare and took everything into consideration i think it helped that my family where there to support me at the time of the hearing.
however the presures of the day may impact upon the decisions he makes. (hope you have a early hearing)

Anonymous said...

I've had the pleasure of watching Judge Cooper at work. The man is a legend for a reason, because he does his job and doesnt take any of the nonsense 'mitigation' that defence constantly try and bring in for the most heinious of offences. It is about time these habitual criminals had their so called 'mitigation' ridiculed. As for a prolific criminal saying he couldnt remember if he commited a specific offence or not so wasnt sure whether to go guilty or not guilty, what does that show... it shows he is committing so much crime he cannot remember what crimes are his and what arent. The sort of person that should be jailed indefinately to protect society, so COOPER was absolutely right in pushing the Guilty element.

Anonymous said...

District Judge Cooper is the best Judge on the local rolls. It's a shame he is retiring soon. I would love to buy that man a retirement drink. Quality Justice for once rather then someone blindly following New Labours Socialist sentencing guidelines to the letter, he uses his discretion to properly sentence these recidivist scum that blight our society.

Craig Davis said...

Well I have to say that DJ .Cooper was fair to me ,when I prosecuted by corrupt police officers in the MIT & the SOCD ,they brought a special prosecutor in from London to try and muscle the case ,DJ .Cooper decided that they were trying to pull a fast one when the prosecutor refused to allow me the right to plead at MAGS and told the court that I was to go to crown and that I was going to get a custodial sentence ,somuch for innocent until proven guilty .It was DJ.Cooper who argued the point for me and just to get his own back after being told to send the case to Crown Court DJ. Cooper gave me unconditional bail .Well done DJ.Cooper ,glad I caught you on a good day and many thanks .

Lynne Russell said...

I have seen Judge Cooper at work many times and he is fair albeit without pandering to the nonsense that it our Criminal Justice System. Justice at Greenwich was all the poorer to have lost him. The fact that the Judges at Crown Court disliked him in my opinion made him all the better for it - have you seen their decisions? The law to them seems to be nothing more than a round of golf. It certainly has nothing to do with actual real people and harm caused. Clone him let every circuit have one.

wim diddy said...

EVEN BEFORE I MET DJ COOPER WEN I WENT TO COURT AS A YOUNGESTER I HAD HEARD OF HIM, HE WAS A LOCAL LEDGEND AROUND SOUTH LONDON. PEOPLE WOULD SAY THAT JUDGE COOPER DOESNT FUCK ABOUT.. ON THE DAY OF COURT I ARRIVE AND MY SOLICSTOR FROM PARNATER & CO TELLS ME THIS JUDGE IS HARD YOU WILL BE GIVEN A CUSTODIAL SENTENCE FOR SURE. NOW IM SITTING IN THE DOCK IM 4TH IN LINE HE SENDS EVERY BOD BEFORE ME TO BELMARSH AND HE WASTES NO TIME IN DOING SO. AT MY TURN HE SAYS WHAT ARE U DOING HERE, U SEEM A GOOD KID WHOS GOING COLLEGE I WONT SEND U DOWN THIS TIME BUYT IF I SEE U AGAIN I WILL FOR SURE DONT COME BACK, HE GAVE ME COMMUNITY SERVICE INSTEAD MAXIMUM HOURS. EVERY CRIMINAL FROM THE 90S AND EARLY NOUGHTYS KNOWS OF THIS MAN AROUND SOUTH EAST LONDON. IM GLAD I MET HIM LOL

Anonymous said...

I love DJ Cooper. Ive appeared before him on many occasions as a defence brief. He has always been polite. Its simply not true to say he sends everyone to prison regardless of what they have done. When he does it is for shorter than most lay benches. he will me missed... by me at least!!

david sheen said...

David Sheen
I met this Judge in the Thamesmead court. I had been accused of assaulting 3 police officers and drunk and disorderly both of which were false. The police had tried to stop me getting in my own house and 1 put me in a headlock which I span out of and put him in 1 this was a reaction as we used to do this to each other when I was younger. The policeman called for backup and wasn't listening to me I had 8 officers jump on me drag me to a van take me to cell and beat me up. When they found out it was my property they brought false charges, I went to court 3 times at Greenwich 3 times at Woolwich as they were not attending. judge Cooper summoned the officers and the Doctor to attend, When the trial was about to go ahead my barrister told me the officers were willing to drop Charges and would I be willing for an out of court settlement I agreed. Anyway the Judge stopped me giving evidence stating the police are not on trial and sent me to jail although I had never been in trouble before, This affected my livelihood and made me upset and angry for years. They really should replace Judges with decent honest people.