|First appearance|| 2000 AD prog 162 |
(26 April 1980)
|Created by|| John Wagner |
|Alter ego||Barbara Hershey|
|Team affiliations||Council of Five|
Chief Judge Barbara Hershey is a fictional character in the Judge Dredd series that appears in British comic 2000 AD. For nearly two decades she regularly appeared as Dredd's junior colleague, before being promoted to become his superior in 1999. She also had her own solo series, Judge Hershey, in the Judge Dredd Megazine (1992–1997).
Fictional character biography
Shortly after her graduation from the Academy of Law in 2102 at age eighteen, Judge Hershey was the surprise choice to join the crew of the spaceship Justice 1 for the dangerous deep-space mission to find the Judge Child, who had been abducted by the Angel Gang. Working closely with Judge Dredd every step of the way, she came through the mission with great credit and was highly commended in his personal log. Hershey returned to the streets of Mega-City One a tougher and infinitely more experienced judge, but she was ill-prepared for the attack of Fink Angel some months later, when he came seeking revenge on the Judges responsible for the deaths of his brothers and his father. The young judge barely escaped, but she had already developed a knack for survival – a knack which proved useful during the Apocalypse War, when Hershey was called upon again by Judge Dredd to join his "Apocalypse Squad" for a daring commando raid which ended the war.
When Chief Judge McGruder resigned her position in 2108, Hershey became the youngest ever member of the Council of Five. Her meteoric rise up the Justice Department's "greasy pole" saw her hotly tipped to become chief judge in due course, but she denied any real ambitions in this direction. Even so, she soon experienced the power that goes with the office when she was asked to serve as acting chief judge while McGruder – back for an unprecedented second term of office – attended a crisis meeting of judges from all over the world to find a way to defeat Sabbat the Necromagus in 2114. Her sister Hillary, a civilian, was killed by Sabbat's zombies, leaving her son Anton, Barbara's nephew, an orphan. The following year, when Anton was kidnapped, Hershey rescued him.
In 2116 Hershey was part of the delegation of senior judges who tried to convince McGruder to reform the Council of Five – inactive since McGruder's return to power – but the Chief Judge refused to comply, as she suspected Hershey was after her job. McGruder's judgement had definitely become questionable, but she insisted on remaining the only voice at the top of the Justice Department until one of the "Mechanismo" robot judges she was so enthusiastic about tried to kill her. Realising her error at last, McGruder wasted no time in tendering her resignation and she entrusted Judge Hershey – along with SJS Chief Niles and Psi Division Chief Shenker – with the job of running the Justice Department until a new chief judge could be elected. Hershey was the only one of those three who actually put their name forward for the post, expressing her desire for more open government. Her liberal views did not go down well with her colleagues, however, and she received only 13 votes in the ballot among Senior Judges, while the new chief judge,Hadrian Volt, won with 208.
Following the murder of Deputy Chief Judge Herriman in 2120, Volt appointed Hershey to that post. The following year she became acting chief judge following the suicide of Volt at the end of the Second Robot War. She was subsequently elected chief judge in her own right, trouncing the only other candidate, Judge Loblaw.
At over nine years, Hershey had the longest reign (2122–2131) of any chief judge since Clarence Goodman, and the longest since the comic strip began in 1977. She brought about several liberal reforms, and kept Dredd close as she still valued his advice and experience. She reigned through several major threats, such as the Total War bombings and a Xenomorph invasion of the Grand Hall of Justice, as well an attempted assassination by Armon Gill.
While slightly more moderate than earlier chief judges, she still made use of black operations and aggressive foreign policy. In 2128 she used a covert assassin to make neighbouring Neocuba's leader think East-Meg Two was trying to assassinate him, thus destroying the alliance between the two states and ensuring that Neocuba became more loyal to Mega-City One; the same assassin was also used to hack into Brit-Cit's computer systems for the purposes of espionage. In the same year, she oversaw the conquest of Ciudad Barranquilla under the guise of humanitarian intervention. Despite Dredd's misgivings over these acts, he has described her as "the best chief judge we've ever had".
In 2130 she repealed the anti-mutant laws (largely at Dredd's insistence), making her unpopular with the public and many judges. In the following year senior judges began a campaign to have her voted out of office and replaced with a hardline candidate who would reinstate those laws. Judge Dan Francisco won the election by a landslide, and appointed Hershey to a position on another planet.
Exile and return
After two years away from Earth, Hershey returned to Mega-City One and returned to street duty in sector 95. She helped Dredd deal with a widespread terrorist massacre, and – as she was slightly rusty – she was wounded in combat.
In the story Day of Chaos, set in 2134, a deadly plague wiped out seven eighths of the city's population. Francisco resigned and appointed Hershey to form an interim government. Hershey admitted she would rather not have the responsibility, but could not refuse due to the scale of the catastrophe. She also wondered if the judges deserved another chance after so great a failure.
Chief Judge again
By the end of the year, Hershey had worked out a major reorganisation of Justice Department, merging multiple divisions into a larger Street Division and a new Undercover Operations Division. Dredd protested at the appointment of Black Operations head Judge Bachmann to the new Undercover Division, but Bachmann's promotion was only Hershey's ploy to expose her as a traitor. It backfired when Bachmann attempted a coup and almost overthrew Justice Department.
In 2139 Hershey reintroduced the Mechanismo robot judges, the failure of which had ended Chief Judge McGruder's career 23 years earlier. Her efforts to win Dredd over failed.
In 2141 Hershey decided to step down for a second time, and nominated Judge Logan as her successor. Publicly she retired due to desire to move on from the top post, but in private she had concealed a terminal illness contracted during her time off world and had managed to hide it from all but her doctors. In addition, in the months previous to her departure she had lost the support of Dredd over both Mechanismo and her continued support for Judge Smiley's black ops. Following Smiley's execution for his part in the Apocalypse War, Dredd had demanded her resignation, having lost faith in her leadership.
Hershey was the third longest serving chief judge (after Fargo and Goodman), having held office for a total of sixteen years.
Several months later, with no signs of improvement, Hershey requested to be euthanized. She summoned Dredd, Chief Judge Logan and a few other friends to be there. After a brief goodbye to them all Hershey passed away holding Dredd's hand. Due to the unknown nature of the pathogen that killed her she was deemed unsuitable for recycling and so was instead cremated by being fired into the sun. This story, "Guatemala," was published in September 2019, 39 years after the character's first appearance.
In later episodes of the same story, it was revealed that Hershey had had another sister (not named in the story), who lived in Guatemala. As this sister was unable to have children, Hershey had donated her eggs, and so the resulting child and grandchildren were genetically Judge Hershey's own. Years later, Guatemala was taken over in a coup and Hershey's sister was murdered. Hershey's last request to Dredd was for him to go there and rescue her surviving relatives from danger. Dredd later infiltrated Guatemala under the guise of a diplomatic mission, located the family and was able to rescue Hershey's daughter, granddaughter and unborn great granddaughter, however her grandson was killed in the operation. The family were returned to Mega-City One to live under Justice Department protection.
In other media
In the 1995 film Judge Dredd, Hershey is played by Diane Lane. She is portrayed as a newly graduated Judge who has been a Street Judge for only a year and is shown to be more sympathetic to perps than Dredd (Sylvester Stallone). Also in contrast to Dredd, she has a personal life and friends. When Dredd is accused of murder he selects Hershey as his defence because "she was at the top of her class in interpretational law" and she appears to be the nearest thing he has to a friend. After she fails to exonerate Dredd and he is sentenced, she continues to investigate the case and uncovers the Janus Project – a secret cloning program that the Council of Five initiated forty years previously that created Dredd and Rico (Armand Assante) from Chief Fargo's (Max von Sydow) DNA. Hershey and Dredd discover that the Janus Project has been reinstated by Rico and the pair manage to defeat Rico and prevent evil clones from taking over the city.
Judge Hershey's name was mentioned in the 2012 film Dredd, in a caption on a computer screen which reads "Assigned to Judge Hershey".