Jessica Cooper has brought meaningful reform to the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office that has restored accountability and respect. As a Judge for 28 years, she practiced a no-nonsense approach to justice.
The same qualities that made her an outstanding Judge – integrity, fairness, intellectual toughness – makes her an outstanding Prosecutor. Her mature and effective approach as Prosecutor has redirected the office to better protect the citizens of this County.
The difference is experience. Jessica R. Cooper was elected Oakland County Prosecutor in November of 2008. She is the first woman to ever hold that position. Prior to being elected prosecutor, she served a total of 28 years as a Judge.
As the chief law enforcement officer of the county, she works with 45 different police agencies, both state and federal, to see that the Michigan laws are enforced and convictions are obtained and affirmed. She leads an office with 180 employees in ten divisions and prosecutes cases involving violent crimes, robberies, domestic and child abuse, mortgage fraud and a variety of other crimes.
Her office prosecutes between 14,000 and 20,000 cases a year and, under her stewardship, has a Circuit Court felony conviction rate of 97%. Jessica Cooper has brought a level of professionalism and excellence to the office and kept her pledge to keep “politics” out the decision making process.
She has instituted reforms to the Prosecutor’s Office by implementing extensive training programs for her Assistant Prosecutors to hone their exemplary trial skills and to emphasize ethical prosecution by abiding by the Rules of Professional Responsibility.
Her office has pursued many cold cases, resulting in numerous murder convictions of previously unsolved homicides including the conviction of a serial killer and the conviction of a professional hit man. These convictions have resulted because of the importance she places on positive relationships with area police departments and the emphasis she places on training her assistant prosecutors so that they have the necessary skills to present complex forensic evidence in the courtroom.
Jessica Cooper is extremely dedicated to the prevention of crime and has spent hundreds of hours in middle schools, high schools and with parent groups in Oakland County talking with young people, teachers, counselors and parents about drugs, sexting, bullying and computer crimes. She continues to lecture about identity theft and computer safety at senior centers all over the county.
A pioneer in the world of women in the law, Cooper attended law school at Wayne State University at a time when it was still uncommon for women to be accepted into law school.
Cooper began her law career as an Assistant Defender in the Michigan State Appellate Defenders Office until she entered private practice as a civil rights attorney, fighting for workers and their families. As a young attorney in 1978, she was approached to run for District Court Judge in Southfield. In an upset victory she beat a longtime incumbent Judge, becoming the first female Judge in Southfield and one of the few in Oakland County. In 1986, she was elected to the 6th Circuit Court in Oakland County where she served on the bench until 2000.
As a Circuit Court Judge, Cooper presided over thousands of cases and developed a reputation as a tough but fair Judge who administered justice from the bench in some of the most high profile cases in Oakland County, the state of Michigan and across the country. Cases in which Cooper presided as Judge included the trials of Jack Kevorkian, Itsemi Koga, a Japanese national who drowned her infant son, and Michael Fletcher, a Hazel Park lawyer who received life in prison for murdering his pregnant wife.
In the year and a half between leaving the Court of Appeals in 2007 and her election as Prosecutor, she was certified as both a Commercial and Labor Arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association and as a 312 Arbitrator and Fact Finder for the Michigan Employment Relations Commission.
She is a founding member of the 1,000 member National Association of Women Judges and served as one of its first publication editors.
She has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School teaching Evidence and Family Law and served for many years as an Adjunct Professor at Michigan State University College of Law teaching Trial Practice. Throughout her career, she has taught Continuing Legal Education trial seminars for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, the Institute of Continuing Legal Education and the National College of Advocacy of the American Trial Lawyers Association. In recent years, she has been a continuing faculty member at the Kessler-Eidson Program for Trial Techniques at Emory Law School in Atlanta. She has used these teaching and courtroom skills to enhance the training of all Assistant Prosecutors.
She was a founding member and the first president of the Michigan chapter of the American Constitution Society. Additionally, she served as a Master and Team Leader of the American Inns of Court through the Oakland County Bar Association. She is a lifetime Fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation. She received the prestigious Treasure of Detroit Alumni Award from Wayne State University Law School. She was recognized by Crain’s Detroit Business paper as one of twelve “best of the best” power lawyers in the metropolitan area and she also accepted the Champion of Justice Award from the Michigan Association of Justice.