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For 11 Years, Collins Cooper Attracted Criticism. Now He’s Running For Judge Unopposed.

The Florida Times-Union
Prosecutor Collins Cooper is seen in an attack ad. He's running for circuit judge.

For more than a decade, supervisors have documented their concerns about Collins Cooper — from his past arrests and his interpersonal skills to his legal competence. But now that the 11-year prosecutor is running for circuit judge, one of the most powerful elected positions in the legal community, no one is opposing him, and no one is talking, at least not publicly.

A review of Cooper’s personnel file shows that from the time he first applied for a job at the State Attorney’s Office through the next decade, he struggled to meet expectations. When he entered the job, his supervisors talked about a promising career for Cooper, the son of Senior Judge Mallory Cooper and the grandson of former Circuit Judge Bill Durden.

Cooper could not be reached for comment.

Before even starting his career, Cooper already had been arrested on charges of drunken driving, disorderly conduct and petit theft. That raised a flag when he applied for a job at the State Attorney’s Office in 2007. Mose Floyd, now a county judge, wrote that he had never recommended hiring someone with Cooper’s arrest record. “Very concerned about arrest record. Besides football, no significant upside to counterbalance bad behavior over a 9-year period. I have never recommended a hire on a DUI-convicted applicant, nor have I not made a call. On this one, I defer to the SAO out of respect and deference to lineage.” When asked to rate Cooper’s intelligence, Floyd circled both below average and average.

Contacted Thursday, Floyd said he would not comment beyond what he had already said in his evaluation.

Harry Shorstein, the state attorney until 2009, said he didn’t really remember Cooper from their time overlapping, but he respected Cooper’s parents. He also said someone with Cooper’s family connections would easily raise the kind of money that keeps away opponents.

“If you ever get a group like that solidly behind you,” Shorstein said, “that group would scare everyone off because that group could raise a lot of money.”

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