Federal Judge Killed in Arizona Congresswoman Shooting

Judge John Roll was one of six people who were killed in the shooter's rampage.

ByABC News
January 8, 2011, 9:38 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2011— -- One of the victims in today's deadly shooting in Tucson, Ariz., was Judge John Roll, 63, who had served on the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona since 1991.

U.S. District Judge Roll was nominated to the bench by President George H.W. Bush, after being recommended by Sen. John McCain.

Before that, Roll served on the Arizona Court of Appeals, where he was appointed in 1987 after a stint as the assistant U.S. attorney in Arizona. In 2006 he had become the chief judge for the District of Arizona.

"The judiciary (has) suffered the terrible loss of one of our own," Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement released today. "Chief Judge John Roll was a wise jurist who selflessly served Arizona and the nation with great distinction, as attorney and judge, for more than 35 years."

Roll was familiar with the hostility and controversy that could surround political issues in the state of Arizona.

In 2009, Roll and his wife received protection from the U.S. Marshall's Service after he began receiving death threats. At the time he was presiding over a controversial civil rights lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher.

Roll told one Arizona paper that it was an "unnerving and invasive" experience.

Retired judges who served with Roll recalled today that he was a fair jurist with a reputation for being measured and thoughtful.

"He was a good judge," said retired Chief Judge Thomas Zlaket, who sat on the bench with Roll. "But first and foremost he was a good human being."

Zlaket told ABC News that Roll had a reputation as a fair jurist, who was also measured and thoughtful. He was well thought of by his colleagues and considered to be a hard sentencer but always fair.

"He was very very devoted to his job and very hard working," said retired Chief Judge Michael Lacagnina. "Off the bench he was the friendliest compassionate caring person."

Before taking his seat on the bench, Roll was considered to be a Republican, but his friends insist his politics never played a role in his decisions once he was on the bench.