San Diego Judge To Take Over Tucson Case

Loughner Sketch
Judge Larry A. Burns of the United States District Court for the SouthernDistrict of California has been designated to preside over United States v. Jared Lee Loughner

A federal judge from San Diego County has been assigned to hear the case of alleged Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner.

Loughner is accused of shooting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a federal judge and other federal employees.

The appointment of Judge Larry A. Burns came Wednesday after all federal judges in Arizona recused themselves. The recusal order says the Arizona judges' impartiality could be questioned because U.S. District Judge John Roll was killed during the rampage. Roll was the chief federal judge for Arizona.

The appointment was made by Alex Kozinski, chief judge for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Burns will preside over the case in an Arizona courtroom.

Judge Burns, who has served as a United States District Judge in San Diego since 2003, has presided over some high profile federal cases. They include bribery charges against Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, sentencing notorious Arellano-Felix drug cartel leader Javier Arellano-Felix and a challenge against the presence of the Mount Soledad cross.

It's because of that experience that local defense attorney Jan Ronis says Burns should be able to handle the attention of this trial.

"If he was a brand new judge and inexperienced in high profile manners, where there's going to be a lot of coverage, you would probably see a lot of nervousness," says Ronis, "So, I don't expect that to be a factor in this case."

Ronis said Burns has a reputation for not wasting time and making sure trials move right along.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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