"Who judges the Judges?"
The Special Judicial Squad (SJS) is the Internal Affairs unit of the Justice Department. They are the Judges that judge the Judges. SJS investigates allegations of corruption, unjudicial conduct and criminal activity within the ranks of the Mega-City Judges. The conduct of the SJS is also overseen by the SJS, and in the 2140s hearings were held by a parliament to decide if a Judge was "worthy" or wavering.
Even Dredd has come under suspicion by them in the past. Some hound Dredd for his disregard for the chain of command and tendency to use his own judgement in important situations that affect the whole Justice Department. Others think that a judge that seems as incorruptible and as dedicated as Dredd must be too good to be true.
While Dredd has clashed with Squad over their methods, he has considered them a useful branch and in 2080 they tried to recruit him. Over the years he has grown to view the Special Judicial Squad with distaste, as he's aware that many of them enjoy their necessarily brutal work.
- "Depending who you ask, they're 'the Judges who judge the Judges', the brakes on fascism, or a bunch of drokking drokkheaded evil drokks."
- —Jack Point, Megazine #238
Their helmets and Lawmasters have a skull badge on them and they wear special belt-buckles that have "SJS" instead of the Judge Shield. Their uniform is black rather than Blue or Navy-Blue.
Under Chief Judge Goodman, the SJS operated from a nondescript HQ in secret and, while subordinate to the Council of Five, in practice they were already becoming aloof and semi-autonomous during the first decades after the Atomic Wars. Their association with insane Judge Cal would further enhancing their notoriety. As head of SJS, Cal was able to blackmail numerous corrupt judges into helping him rise to power, ensuring that he had plenty of allies to assist him in his planned coup d'état. (This evidence eventually came to light over twenty years later, by which time many of Cal's subverted judges had been promoted to very senior positions in the Justice Department, and there were several arrests.)
When Cal move to usurp power, the SJS (depicted as a sinister Praetorian Guard to go with "Judge Caligula") attempted to frame Dredd for murder, and later tried to assassinate him, while SJS Judge Quimby assassinated Chief Judge Goodman. Cal would then use the SJS to keep the other Judges and citizens in line, and the SJS's control of the Daily Crime Briefing tapes were used to brainwash the bulk of the force into accepting his rule. Even the SJS weren't immune from his wrath, with Judge Slocum being pickled.
Following Cal's death and a harsh purge of the Squad, Judge McGruder was entrusted with the responsibility of rebuilding the SJS and restoring its integrity. She laid down safeguards to prevent the organisation from going rogue again, including greater briefings for the Chief Judge and Council of Five. (Underhandedness and bully-boy tactics were, of course, still the day-to-day tactics.)  As head of the SJS, she had a seat on the Council. Since then the SJS has produced two more chief judges: McGruder herself, and Judge Volt.
In "The Interrogation", Dredd was abducted by SJS men under Judge Spiegl and viciously interrogated on spurious grounds. Dredd believed the SJS had turned corrupt again and that the body may be planning a coup, though it turned out to be a routine Random Physical Abuse Test of him instead (he passed). Years later, an RPA would go wrong and two SJS Judges were killed, and Spiegl and Dredd came to blows over it. The incident showed tension between SJS and Street Judges, who ignored the beating Dredd gave Spiegl.
Judge Niles was head of the SJS during Chief Judge McGruder's second term. As McGruder deteriorated, swathes of the SJS went out of control under the assumptions that either McGruder wouldn't notice or that she'd back them anyway (Spiegl had even said this to Dredd in their second encounter). These acts included SJS deathsquads killing democrat activists with fraudulent 'authorisation' from McGruder, an instance of which was exposed by Hershey in 2114, and an attempt to kill Hershey in 2115 under the pretence that they hadn't heard a stand-down order. After one run-in with the SJS, Hershey had 150 Judges forced into the Long Walk sometime after after this. Despite this, Niles was a key part of a conspiracy to force her to resign when her mental health deteriorated. Once she left office, Chief Judge Volt appointed Niles to the ruling Council of Five.
Before a new Chief Judge could be appointed, Niles - at odds with Hershey - implied to two SJS Judges that it would be hushed up if Hershey had an 'unforeseen' accident at an InterDep conference. Hershey had herself given up on plans to truly decimate the SJS, believing them necessary to keeping the city running.
By 2117, Sector 301 ("the Pit") was hideously corrupt and so were the local Special Judicial Squad, with the chief Judge Roth being in bed with the Frendz. This caused Dredd to set up an internal investigation outside of SJS control, consisting entirely of street judges led by Judge DeMarco and then by Judges Buell & Garcia. After the death of Roth, Buell and Garcia were placed in charge of the sector's SJS: Buell was surprised to realise he had a knack for hunting down bent judges.
Buell went on to become the head of the Squad in 2112 and part of the Council of Five. His deputy was Garcia until she was killed in action in 2134. In "Tour of Duty", it was Buell and Garcia's SJS who stormed in and arrested Chief Judge Sinfield after proving he had used criminal means to gain power.
From 2117 its headquarters was inside the Statue of Judgement (as well as the Public Surveillance Unit which was also based there); ironically Cal fell to his death from the top of the statue. The statue was destroyed by terrorists in 2134; and shortly afterwards a new headquarters building was depicted, named as "SJS Central" and suffering administration problems because of the statue's loss.
In the spin-off strip Insurrection, the SJS had a large army with vast warships – the Justice Control Divisions – that ensured MC-1 colony planets did not try to secede. (In earlier spinoff Maelstron, SJS teams are sent to colony worlds with local Justice Departments to clear them of corruption.) Senior Judge Kulotte was sent with a major force to bring the rebel colony of K-Alpha 61, aka "Liberty", to heel and finally subjugated it after a harsh battle, only to learn Marshal Karel Luther had abandoned the unwinnable fight and taken his insurgents elsewhere.
Kulotte and Luther fought various battles across Mega-City space and the Judge was able to convince him not to use a doomsday weapon, only for the two to be forced into alliance when the Zhind launched an all-out invasion. The very instant the war ended, the SJS space corps systematically massacred the 'insurgents' who had been fighting alongside them.
Following the events of Day of Chaos in 2134, the SJS were discredited for not uncovering a nest of high-ranking Soviet agents. The SJS were also facing a massive reorganisation, being absorbed into a new Undercover Operations Division where Buell would be a subordinate. In 2014 (2136 in the strip), Buell was still on the Council, the reorganisation having been cancelled. By the end of 2137, SJS Judge Waldron was on the Council in Buell's place.
Alex Gerhart blamed Dredd for the events of Chaos Day and was determined to find something to nail him on. The two would both be sent to the Titan penal colony after Aimee Nixon's coup and their dual suffering there caused Gerhart to change his mind on Dredd, going as far as to talk him down from outright murdering the Titan convicts. Afterwards, he reported on Dredd's state of mind after the ordeal to Barbara Hershey: that Dredd was violent and angry, but he was always violent and angry and as long as he did it for the law, there was no problem.
Unknown to the rest of the Squad, the aging Judge Pin is a serial killer responsible for the 'random' deaths of numerous Judges she deemed corrupt. She arranged for Gerhart to be convinced to take the Long Walk, in order to get back at Dredd. This actually worked in Dredd's favour as he could request Gerhart to be present at a specific point near the city wall, allowing him to fire a sniper shot at the monstrous Black Ops Division head Smiley, who had not taken Gerhart's presence into account.
Multiple foreign cities have their own version, either with the same name or an alternate.
Brit-Cit used External Affairs, a division of the sinister and besuited Special Branch, or a SJS depending on which strip you're reading.
Hondo calls their version Tokko Division, which can enforce seppuki. They wear a black version of the usual uniform. As with the Council of Justice, they were often more concerned with the look of things than following the actual law: in 2217, they allowed a conflict between Shimura and a crime syndicate to play out to rid Justice Department of the 'shame' of a ronin.
Heads of SJSEdit
(This list is incomplete.)
- Judge Cal ????–2100 or 2101
- Judge McGruder 2101–2104
- Judge Niles 2112–2122
- Judge Buell 2122–2136 or 2137
- Judge Waldron 2138 onwards
Deputy Heads of SJSEdit
(This list is incomplete.)
- Judge Muncie ????–2122
- Judge Garcia 2122–2134
- The Special Judicial Squad uniform has varied over the years, though always with skulls, an SJS buckle, and different shoulder pads. The Eagle Comics colour reprints had the SJS wearing gold badges but 2000AD has (mostly) coloured them as silver.
- In the Dredd vs. Death video game, if your 'lawmeter' runs too low the SJS appear to shoot you down.
- The A-Z of Judge Dredd: The Complete Encyclopedia from Aaron Aardvark to Zachary Zziiz (by Mike Butcher, St. Martin's Press, March 1995, Template:ISBN)
- ↑ Prog 2074
- ↑ Judge Dredd Year One: Cold Light of Day ebook by Michael Carroll
- ↑ Prog 2074
- ↑ 2000 AD #518
- ↑ Mega-Special #2 feature on SJS
- ↑ 2000 AD #86-90
- ↑ 2000 AD #1178-79
- ↑ 2000 AD #89
- ↑ Mega Special #2 feature
- ↑ 2000 AD #182
- ↑ 2000 AD #518
- ↑ 2000 AD #826
- ↑ Megazine 2.14-17's Hershey story
- ↑ Dread Dominion and Dreddlocked Virgin novels
- ↑ Wetworks novel
- ↑ 2000 AD #1692
- ↑ 2000 AD #954
- ↑ 2000 AD #108
- ↑ 2000 AD #1775
- ↑ 2000 AD #1794
- ↑ Insurrection III
- ↑ 2000 AD #1803
- ↑ Judge Dredd Megazine #367; also 2000 AD #1976 (2016)
- ↑ Titan
- ↑ Prog 1873
- ↑ The Small House
- ↑ Megazine #75 (Vol.2)