Judge Dread’s coming to town

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By Judge John Hack on

A candidate for the bench in the home of country music bears some striking resemblances to the man with the Lawgiver pistol and purveyor of summary executions


Lawyers in their 40s know not to mess with Judge Dredd.

Launched in the British comic anthology 2000 AD in 1977, Joseph Dredd — the judicial enforcer of Mega-City One — was no soft touch; in a rough town, he doled out rough justice, often arresting, charging, convicting and executing bad guys in the space of a few minutes. Sounds like a Conservative home secretary’s dream.

Now the hard man of the bench has cropped up in real life Nashville, a city more often associated with the Grand Ole Opry and Dolly Parton than a dystopian vision of the future.

He’s had to change his name slightly — presumably to head off claims of trading on his UK fame — but Adam Dread is aiming to be Tennessee’s own Judge Dread.


Adam is campaigning for a slot on Nashville’s general sessions bench, with polling day looming at the beginning of August. It’s a long way from the Supreme Court in DC — with the general sessions hearing civil, misdemeanour, felony, traffic, environmental, and metropolitan ordinance violations — but it’s a start.

And don’t let the spelling change fool you — Adam Dread has had a life almost as colourful as that of his comic book counterpart.

Indeed, he’s only relatively recently joined the ranks of the legal profession, qualifying as a lawyer in 2004.

After graduating from university in the mid-80s, Dread spent about 14 years touring the US and abroad as a stand-up comedian, as well as being a newspaper columnist, radio host, and television producer. A dozen years ago, the good citizens of Nashville — population some 625,000 — elected Dread to the city council.

Perhaps Dread’s greatest achievement so far has been a stint on the Nashville Metro Beer Board. That august body regulates for the city just about everything there is to do with beer and other booze of less than 5 per cent alcoholic content.


But where Dread gives away the connection to Dredd is his approach to firearms. Somewhat untypically for an American living south of the Mason-Dixon Line, Dread reckons people should not have an unbridled right to lug a gun just about anywhere. His website points out he campaigned fiercely against state plans to allow punters to carry fire arms into restaurants serving alcohol.

Legal Cheek readers will be familiar with our fascination for the US trait of electing judges to relatively minor bench positions — and the odd names the candidates fly under. Only a few weeks ago, we highlighted the delightfully-monikered Judge Wanker, who is standing for a similarly obscure bench role in Nevada.

Further reading:

Who’s the w*nker … who’s the w*nker … who’s the w*nker on the bench? [Legal Cheek]