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Judge Niles

Judge Roger Niles was the head of the Special Judicial Squad (SJS) for ten years, and then the head of the Public Surveillance Unit (PSU) for twelve years.

Deep down he often had a sense of shame, and dealt with it by overcompensating: both with extreme self-control and a fanatical belief in the Judge system.[1]


Head of SJS[]

He was appointed head of the SJS – Justice Department's internal affairs department – by Chief Judge Hilda Margaret McGruder in 2112. In that role he was responsible for ensuring that all of Mega-City One's judges met the highest standards of behaviour, competence and judgement. Yet when the Chief Judge herself began to exhibit increasingly poor judgement and erratic behaviour, he was powerless to intervene by himself, as by abolishing the Council of Five in 2112 she had removed the only constitutional way of holding her to account. Instead he was forced to resort to underhand means. In 2116 he conspired with Judge Hershey and others to remove McGruder from office by force. The conspirators tried to recruit Dredd's support[2] and Niles passed on claims to Hershey that McGruder had ordered SJS Judge Eliphas to do Random Physical Abuse tests on Dredd to torment him.[3]

However, when the conspirators met with him, Dredd refused to cooperate, firmly declaring that he would not support a coup d'état. Anticipating Dredd's reluctance, Niles had come prepared: he informed Dredd of the location of a secret research facility in which McGruder was covertly developing a new production line of robot judges. Niles knew that Dredd believed the robot judge programme to be strong evidence of McGruder's deteriorating judgement, and that Dredd thought that the programme had been discontinued. Once Dredd had discovered the truth, Dredd agreed to join Niles and the others in a delegation to demand the Chief Judge's resignation.[4]

Although this step failed badly, it nevertheless set in motion a long chain of events which eventually did result in McGruder's resignation. In this indirect way Niles was therefore instrumental in bringing about McGruder's departure from office.

It was Niles who interrogated Todd Greel to see if the Mechanismo's had been programmed to kill McGruder. He found no evidence and proposed the robots, following their programming to guard the city, felt McGruder had to go, but said the full truth may never be known.

Council of Five[]

Post-Wilderlands triumverate

When McGruder resigned there was no Council of Five to choose a new chief judge. She therefore appointed an Interim Council of three Judges to oversee the transition of power. Niles was a member of this council and he, Hershey, and Shenker soon got on each other's nerves.

While Niles had worked with Hershey to bring down McGruder and passed on files from his division, the SJS were already daggers drawn with Hershey after recent clashes. When she went as a delegate to InterDep, she asked Dredd to watch Niles in case he attempted a coup. Niles, for his part, had instructed the SJS with her that any 'unforeseen' accident would be welcome. In the end, he was de facto in charge when InterDep sparked violence across the city.[5]

When the new Chief Judge was elected he appointed Niles to the new Council of Five. Niles himself had declined to run for the city's highest office.[6] In the following year (2117) Niles was the only judge on the Council to vote against Chief Judge Volt's sweeping political reforms. However, Volt kept him on the Council.[7]

Niles and Hershey would become politically close allies. In 2118, she requested her aid in identifying a corrupt SJS Judge and owed her a favour afterwards - though to her distaste, he had the Judge executed and admitted they wouldn't look to see which Judges he'd sent to Titan were innocent. [8] In 2122, she would consider him the most astute mind in her council. [9]

Head of PSU[]

In 2122 Niles handed new Chief Judge Hershey evidence which implicated Judge Edgar, the head of the PSU, in serious crimes.[10] Hershey immediately had Edgar arrested, and appointed Niles to replace her as head of PSU. However, after the Council of Five heard Edgar speak in her defence, Niles joined the majority in voting for her acquittal. Nevertheless, she was not reinstated as head of the PSU, where Niles remained in charge for the next ten years. Invited by Hershey to nominate his successor as head of SJS, Niles chose Judge Buell, and his recommendation was accepted.

By 2122 Niles was the longest-serving incumbent member of the Council, and thus presumably the most senior judge after the chief judge. As head of the Public Surveillance Unit he was one of the most powerful men in Mega-City One, as he had detailed information on everyone in the city and almost everything that happened. Fortunately, he was always loyal to the Chief Judge, and Judge Dredd was usually able to count on him for support, to the extent that when Dredd threatened to resign unless the Council voted to abolish mutant apartheid, Niles voted against his conscience to keep Dredd on the force.

Niles Skinning Room

The change in the city's policy towards mutants was to cost Niles his seat on the Council, however. In 2131 Chief Judge Hershey was voted out of office as a result of widespread opposition to mutant rights, and new Chief Judge Dan Francisco requested the resignation of the entire Council.[11] In the following year his successor, Chief Judge Sinfield, removed Niles from the PSU.[12] Niles responded by recruiting Dredd to run against Sinfield in another election and running Dredd's campaign, albeit on a platform of lesser mutant rights than Dredd had originally supported.[13] When the election was aborted and Francisco returned to office, Francisco reappointed Niles to the Council[14] and to the PSU. His first discovery was how much of PSU's resources had been moved from criminal surveillance to spying on Judges that Sinfield thought were plotting against him.[15]

Niles was killed in 2134 when the PSU headquarters was destroyed during the story Day of Chaos (2012).[16]

Worlds of 2000AD RPG[]

The Judge Dredd & Worlds of 2000AD RPG put out a Day The Law Died campaign book in 2020. This included a history of the SJS, and implied Niles brought McGruder down out of anger she'd never promote him to Council. As Volt did, he showed the man loyalty.


  • John Wagner didn't read the Virgin novels and so was unaware that Dave Stone, following the oft-sinister takes on the SJS, had made Niles a dodgy figure who was at odds with Hershey - leading to one of her longest, closest allies being someone who once tried to bump her off!
  • Niles was the third black man in the comic strip to gain a seat on the Council of Five (in 1994), the previous ones being Judge Quimby (1980) and Chief Judge Silver (1986).


  1. Wetworks by Dave Stone
  2. 2000 AD #891
  3. Silencer novel
  4. Judge Dredd Megazine vol. 2 no. 57
  5. Wetworks
  6. 2000 AD #915-916
  7. 2000 AD #957
  8. Megazine 3.18, "Sacrifice"
  9. Dredd vs Death novel by Gordon Rennie
  10. 2000 AD #1178-79
  11. 2000 AD #1649
  12. 2000 AD #1689
  13. 2000 AD #1690
  14. 2000 AD #1693
  15. 2000 AD #1700
  16. 2000 AD #1775