TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — U.S. District Judge John M. Roll, the chief federal judge for Arizona, died Saturday, a victim of a mass shooting. Roll was 63.
Roll was shot while attending an event for constituents held by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was badly wounded in the shooting.
Roll was appointed to the federal bench in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush. Roll previously served as a state trial judge and as a judge on the midlevel Arizona Court of appeals. He previously worked as a county and state prosecutor.
Named chief judge for Arizona in 2006, Roll pushed to have more judges placed on the court's strained bench to handle growing number of cases stemming from border-related crime.
"Judge Roll was a widely respected jurist, a strong and able leader of his court, and a kind, courteous and sincere gentleman," said Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal circuit that includes Arizona. "He worked tirelessly to improve the delivery of justice to the people of Arizona."
U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he recommended Roll for federal appointment.
"Words are inadequate to express such a profound loss to his family, friends, state and country, but it is appropriate to note that a man of great qualities and character was struck down today," McCain said.
Roll received death threats in 2009 after he denied a southern Arizona rancher's motions to dismiss a lawsuit filed on behalf of illegal immigrants who alleged that the rancher detained, assault and threatened them, the Arizona Republic reported.
"It was unnerving and invasive ... by its nature it has to be," Roll told the Phoenix newspaper in a mid-2009 interview.
He said he followed the advice of the Marshals Service to not press charges against four men identified as threatening him.
As a federal judge, Roll handled a wide variety of cases.
He ruled in 2009 that federal wildlife officials used incorrect criteria when deciding against designating critical habitat and develop endangered jaguars.
In the 1990s, he was among several federal judges who ruled that the Brady gun law's requirement for a records check by local authorities violates the Constitutional's 10th Amendment.
Roll was a Pennsylvania native who got his law degree from the University of Virginia. He is survived by his wife, Maureen, three sons, and five grandchildren.
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