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Latino Daily News

Tuesday January 11, 2011

Could Slain Arizona Judge Have Been Targeted Over Immigration Controversy?

Could Slain Arizona Judge Have Been Targeted Over Immigration Controversy?

Photo: Federal Judge John Roll

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Among those killed in this weekend’s shooting in Arizona was U.S. District Judge John Roll. It is believed that he was not an intended target like Rep. Gabriel Giffords, but over the last few years, Roll’s life was threatened a number of times.

In 2009, Judge Roll received full-time protection from U.S. Marshalls after his ruling his initial ruling in a case involving unauthorized immigrants and a local rancher ruffled a lot of feathers because he ruled in favor of the immigrants. This caused the judge to receive in a number of death threats against the judge, resAfter a month, when four people having made threatening phone calls were arrested, the Marshalls’ protection, which Roll called “unnerving and invasive,” was stopped.

Appointed a federal judge by President George H. W. Bush in 1991, Roll went on to serve a chief judge in Arizona in 2006.

Earlier in the week, Roll was in the news for having asked Rep. Giffords to sign a letter to the chief judge of the Ninth Circuit, Alex Kozinski, to help him convince the court to declare his federal judicial district a judicial emergency because of the large number of immigration and border control cases needing to be heard in the district. Declaring a judicial emergency allows judges to delay trials due to the insufficient number of people able to hear the cases.

When Roll called Giffords to thank her for signing the letter, it is believed she told him she’d be in his area on Saturday for a constituent event, and he arrived at that Tucson Safeway to thank her.

Suspect Jared Lee Loughner is believed to have shot Roll, Giffords, and injured or killed an additional 18 people. Giffords remains in the hospital after being shot in the head, while sadly, Judge Rolls was killed.

Despite the threats and controversy surrounding Roll’s decisions over the years, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said he believes Giffords was really the only intended target, and that, “Unfortunately, [Roll] was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”