Historic. Monumental. Shattering the glass ceiling. Inspiring. All words used to describe the election of the first African-American President, President Elect Barack Obama. All appropriate and accurate. Amidst the hoopla and celebration of Obama’s election, much further down the ballot, another historic, monumental, glass-ceiling shattering and inspiring election took place in Oakland County — the election of the first-ever woman to the position of Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney. The Honorable Jessica Cooper, a former district court judge, circuit court judge and Court of Appeals judge, wrestled the county’s chief law enforcement spot from the stranglehold of the Republican Party whose leaders, Brooks Patterson, Richard Thompson and then David Gorcyca, were entrenched in that spot for decades. Judge Cooper beat David Law, a Republican who promised to continue many of the traditions of the current prosecutor’s office. While I will not delve too deeply into some the campaign antics and tactics used against Judge Cooper, I must say that she is a better sport than I for having dealt with them so gracefully.
As a former member of this Prosecutor’s Office (many, many years ago) and someone who practices regularly in the Oakland County Courts, I am excited at the idea of change in this most important office. By no means do I expect that Judge Cooper will be a pushover . . . anyone who has any modicum of experience in dealing with her would know better and I have had my fair share. But she will bring fresh ideas, fresh minds and fresh perspective to this office. Who will her assistants be? Will she keep all of the current staff? Will she change policies, some of which have been around since the Patterson days? Will she move division heads and/or more importantly, pay attention to the manner in which some of the assistants treat opposing lawyers? Time will tell but if I know anything about Judge Cooper it is that she will not continue with business as usual.
For the first time a woman is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the richest county in the state and one of the richest in the nation. Another historic, monumental moment in which a glass ceiling was shattered and a sacred cow sacrificed. Way to to Judge . . eh, I mean Prosecutor Cooper.