Thursday, January 13, 2011
Judge from San Diego Chosen to Preside Over Arizona Shooting Case
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns of the Southern District of California yesterday was assigned to preside over the criminal trial for the alleged gunman who wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed Chief Judge John Roll of the District of Arizona.
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the order designating Burns to preside over United States v. Loughner, Case No. 2:11-mj-00035, after judges of the Arizona district court recused themselves from hearing the case.
No request has been filed for the case to be moved outside of Arizona, a spokesperson for the Ninth Circuit said.
Loughner, 22, is charged with the murder of Roll and a Giffords staffer, as well as the attempted assassination of the congresswoman, who was shot in the head, but was breathing on her own and responding non-verbally to doctors yesterday.
Burns, 56, is no stranger to high profile cases. In recent years, he has presided over the prosecution and sentencing of former San Diego Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham on bribery charges; the prosecution and sentencing of Javier Arellano-Felix, head of the Arellano-Felix drug cartel, on murder, drug trafficking and RICO charges; and a challenge to the presence of a Latin cross on Mount Soledad in La Jolla, Calif.
The jurist joined the federal bench in 1997, serving as a magistrate for six years before being tapped for the district court in 2003 by then-President George W. Bush.
Before becoming a judge, Burns served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California from 1985 to 1997 and as a San Diego County deputy sistrict attorney from 1979 to 1985.
He attended the University of San Diego School of Law and was admitted to practice in 1979.
With the death of Roll, U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver became chief federal judge for Arizona, said Richard Weare, clerk of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.
Silver was appointed to the federal bench in 1994 by President Bill Clinton. She worked previously for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona.
By law, a chief judge is succeeded by the most senior member of the court among active judges who are less than 65 years of age and have not previously served as chief judge.
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