One Tough Cookie

Last week the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan honored Jessica Cooper with the “One Tough Cookie” award. She was nominated by Auburn Hills Police Chief, Doreen Olko and then selected by the Girl Scout Board along with 20 other area leaders. Prosecutor Cooper stated, "I cannot tell you how proud I am not only to receive this award, but I am humbled to be a part of such a distinguished group of recipients." 

Prosecutor Cooper provided her old Girl Scout troop photograph. She added, "That’s me, front row, third from the left!"

Nominated by: Doreert Olko, Chief of Police, Auburn Hills; GSSEM Board Member at Large

“As we go about our daily lives, most people do not have contact with police or prosecutors and as a consequence do not give much thought to who leads the criminal justice system in our local communities. However, if you have the misfortune to be a victim, it becomes critically important as you seek justice and reparation for your losses. Police and prosecutors have a shared responsibility to investigate crimes and bring perpetrators before the court. Effective policing and prosecution of criminals makes our communities safer. Nothing could be more important — safety and security in our communities allows a high quality of life for our businesses and families.

As a lifetime police officer and police chief, I have had the opportunity to work with many prosecuting attorneys over a 43-year career. I got to know Prosecutor Cooper after she was elected in 2008. As I watched her work I became increasingly impressed with her leadership. She brings to the office her compelling experience as a courtroom judge and her outstanding depth of legal knowledge. She is thoughtful and careful in her use of the county's limited resources, as a Girl Scout should, yet maximizes the outcomes to serve the community. 

My colleagues frequently comment how impressed they are when she contacts them about the challenging and high profile cases they face. When she was newly elected one chief told me how impressed he was with her command of the facts in a particularly challenging homicide case. He said he called her office at 8:00 pm and expected to leave a message for her to discuss the case the next day. He said he was surprised when she answered the phone and discussed the case with him in detail. She shared his concerns that children involved in the case were in danger from their mother, the homicide suspect -- a challenging stance to take in that case. Not only was she concerned she acted expeditiously to protect the children. In a tough profession where she must deal with critical incidents on nearly a daily basis, she has earned the respect of police chiefs for her judgment and her leadership. As a result the Oakland County Association of Chiefs of Police has endorsed Jessica for reelection on 2 occasions. Her service as Prosecuting Attorney makes Oakland County a better place. 

Through our many talks it is clear that she has a strong interest in and advocacy for issues important to women and children. Last year, she introduced me to the nonprofit she founded with members of her office and an impressive group of local attorneys to benefit abused and neglected children at Mandy's Place, a transitional placement located at Oakland County's Children's Village. These are children whose caretakers have failed them—through criminal activity, drug abuse, neglect. They are awaiting placement with family members or foster care when they come to Mandy's Place. Police or social workers bring the children in, often with just the clothes on their backs. Prosecutor Cooper mobilized people and fundraising events to provide a Christmas for these kids. They get clothes, personal toiletries, backpacks, activity books, and a toy all brightly wrapped on Christmas morning. She is personally involved in the shopping, wrapping and delivery of the gifts. 

Jessica told me with a touch of pride that there are people who suggest that she is still a Girl Scout —she believes and lives the values she learned in Girl Scouting. Like many women leaders, Girl Scouting gave her opportunities to learn and lead, forecasting her future as a leader in our community.

Through her work and the example other life, she makes the world a better place. I am honored to nominate Jessica R. Cooper as 'One Tough Cookie' in 2016.”

International Visitors

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The International Visitors Council once again asked me to host a contingent of international visitors. Today we met with prosecutors, judges and a private attorney from Nigeria, Malaysia, Tanzania, Kuwait, Romania and Moldova. They were accompanied by a representative from the US State Department.

It is always an honor to meet with professionals from other countries and compare our various criminal justice systems. I found it particularly interesting that none of the countries represented in this group had jury systems. The cases in their countries have a single judge or a panel of judges who decide guilt or innocence. 

So after our discussions, we took our visitors over to watch a part of a criminal jury trial that was being conducted in Circuit Court.

On A More Serious Note...

On a more serious note, my office was honored to participate in the US State Department- sponsored International Leadership program of the International Visitors Council (IVC Detroit). Over the years, we have participated in several professional and educational and cultural exchanges arranged by IVC. Last week we were privileged to meet with dedicated and concerned delegates from India who were in the Metro Detroit area exploring and addressing ways to combat gender- based violence.

The discussion was intense and very frank. As we all know, victims of domestic violence can be of any age, gender, race, culture, religion, education, employment or marital status. There was much to discuss with regard to changing myths and cultural concepts of domestic assault and particularly, sexual assault. Rape is an act of power and control, not sex. And as we discussed with our new friends the relative progress the US has made in this regard, we all agreed that it is a difficult and lengthy process. We hope that these continued cultural exchanges will bring some assistance and ideas to this world wide problem. I know that it certainly reminded us that our progress was just “relative”.

Lake Orion man charged in '93 Farmington Hills slaying

The Detroit News, May 31, 2012

Mike Martindale

Pontiac — Nearly 20 years after a land surveyor was found beaten to death outside his Farmington Hills office, a Lake Orion man has been charged with killing him.

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper announced Wednesday that a citizens grand jury indicted Melvin James Wofford, 40, on charges of felony murder and first-degree premeditated murder in the slaying of Thomas Gilmore, 65, of Garden City.

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