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Judge Francisco
Publication information
Publisher Rebellion Developments
First appearance 2000 AD prog 1520 (2007)
Created by John Wagner
Rufus Dayglo
In-story information
Alter ego Dan Francisco

Judge Dan Francisco is a fictional supporting character in the Judge Dredd comic strip appearing in the British magazine 2000 AD. He was chief judge of Mega-City One twice (2131–2132 and 2132–2134, or 2009 to 2012 in the comic). In 2013 he appeared in his own series in the Judge Dredd Megazine.

Fictional character biography

Before becoming chief judge, Francisco was a street judge and the subject of a 24-hour reality show called The Streets Of Dan Francisco – a major public relations boost for Justice Department. Despite his experience, however, he would often do what the audience expected rather than what made the most sense, due to the unremitting pressure from the constantly present cameras. Francisco was well-meaning and affable, and Dredd viewed him as a good judge, albeit one being continually manipulated by others.

In 2131 Judges Sinfield, Cardew and Millan began a campaign to run Francisco as a candidate to replace Judge Hershey as chief judge, running on an anti-mutant platform. He was elected by a landslide, thanks to an attempted assassination by a mutant gang. It later transpired that this had been set up by an anti-mutant group to ensure his victory, but the vote was unaffected by this revelation.

Depicting Francisco becoming chief judge in a story published in 2009 may be a reference to Barack Obama becoming President of the United States earlier that year; 2000 AD publishers Rebellion Developments have sold "campaign badges" of him, with the slogan "Change We Can Believe In!"

When Francisco took office, he appointed a completely new Council of Five which included his backers Sinfield, Cardew and Millan. He appointed Sinfield deputy chief judge. Though Francisco survived the assassination attempt, he remained in a serious condition for some time. While he remained hospitalised, Sinfield was briefly acting chief judge.

Mutant townships in the Cursed Earth were set up, to which to expel the mutant citizens. Francisco also had Hershey and Dredd given new postings, off-world and in the townships respectively, until the mutant issue died down; how much of this was his own idea and how much was Sinfield's remains ambiguous. However, after discovering the conditions of the townships were little better than temporary shanty towns, Francisco forced through an increase in expenditure over Sinfield's objections, believing there was a moral duty to do the clearances "with humanity and generosity". This led Dredd to reappraise his original assessment of him.

Francisco was aware of the belief that he was easy to manipulate, and that Sinfield and his allies intended to do so. He nevertheless retained them on the Council of Five, both out of the belief that they had the city's interests in mind and out of his determination not to be a "typical politico". Late in the year, Francisco suffered a relapse when his body began to reject the prosthetic lungs fitted after his assassination attempt. Sinfield took advantage of Francisco's weakened, drug-addled state to dose him with a powerful hypnotic drug and persuade him to resign. Sinfield succeeded him as acting chief judge. Both Dredd and Mayor Ambrose were left confused and suspicious by Francisco's sudden collapse in confidence and by his support of Sinfield. This eventually led to an investigation, and Sinfield's crime was uncovered. Sinfield was arrested, and Francisco returned to office. Francisco appointed Dredd to the Council of Five.

Sinfield received the mandatory sentence of 20 years on Titan, and Justice Department decided to cover up what had happened. However Francisco soon vetoed this, noting that showing that the law was even harder on corrupt Judges than on citizens might help the Judges' image.

After coming to power, Francisco attempted to sort out Mega-City One's budget with various cost-cutting measures, wrapped under the buzzword of the Big Community.

In 2133 and 2134, he oversaw Mega-City One's response to the Chaos Virus plot by Soviet agents. When the enemy's camp was believed to be found, Francisco took a vote among the Strategic Defence Committee about whether to launch an airstrike or send a raid to retrieve the virus's creator: he went with the majority vote to use air power, but was uneasy about Dredd voting against it. The camp turned out to be a fake and the Chaos Virus entered Mega-City One, infecting thousands and threatening to kill 98% of the city if unchecked; terrorist attacks broke out at the same time, pushing the Judges to their limits and wiping out the Public Surveillance Unit. Francisco suspended the mayoral elections, imposed a curfew, and approved Mechanismo reserves and shoot-to-kill orders to keep order.

However, when Judge Vass proposed executing all of the infected in fake medical transports (which would be flying them to Cursed Earth burial pits), Francisco refused: he condemned it as "monstrous", and said they would instead focus all efforts on preventing the infection from spreading. He was distraught that this incident was happening in his term.

Vass' proposal was leaked to the press by Sov agents, presented as something the judges were already doing: a mass uprising broke out. Francisco tried to calm the situation with an appeal to the citizens, using his fame to try and assure them that he would never do such a thing. However, the citizens did not believe him as Justice Department had long lost any credibility. Francisco proposed a block-by-block pacification programme in each sector, but due to the severe loss of control he was forced to order the extermination of any infected to contain the Chaos Bug, just as Vass had planned. Having to do this left him enraged. By the time the disease was contained, 350 million people had been killed (out of an initial population of around 400 million), and Francisco resigned in shame of "presiding over the worst disaster in our history". He appointed Judge Hershey as his successor.