Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Judge named to preside over federal trial in Ariz. shooting

President Barack Obama embraces Mark Kelly, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, at a memorial service for victims on Wednesday.

Associated Press

President Barack Obama embraces Mark Kelly, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, at a memorial service for victims on Wednesday.

The judge named to preside over the federal trial of Jared Loughner is a no-nonsense jurist who will keep the proceedings moving and focused, colleagues said.

Larry Alan Burns of the Southern District of California in San Diego was appointed Wednesday by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over California, Arizona and other Western states.

Arizona's federal judges were disqualified from taking the case because their colleague John Roll, who was Arizona's chief federal judge, was killed in the shootings Saturday, and their impartiality "might reasonably be questioned," Roslyn Silver, the district's new chief judge, wrote in an order released Wednesday.

Kozinski said Burns' experience with federal death-penalty cases was an important consideration in his selection. Such cases are relatively rare, and the rules regarding them are arcane.

"We don't have that many judges, it turns out, who have been involved in potential capital cases," Kozinski said in an interview. High-profile cases call for "a fairly strong judge who will keep control of the proceedings," Kozinski said, describing the ideal candidate as "a combination of a general and a traffic cop."

Burns, 56, has precisely that reputation, said Judge Irma Gonzalez, the chief judge of the Southern District of California. Appointed to the federal bench in 2003 by President George W. Bush, Burns is best known for presiding in the trial of Rep. Randy Cunningham of California, who pleaded guilty in 2005 to charges that he accepted $2.4 million in bribes from military contractors in return for a helping hand in obtaining government contracts.

In sentencing Cunningham to eight years and four months in prison, Burns said, "You made a wrong turn and continued for three to five years."

Scholarship set up in honor of Giffords aide

The death of Gabriel Zimmerman, the 30-year-old aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was by her side when the first shots were fired Saturday, has inspired two alumni of his alma mater, the University of California at Santa Cruz, to set up a scholarship fund in his honor. The scholarship, set up by Jonathan Klein, a partner in a San Francisco law firm, and Alex Clemens, also a former political aide, would go to a student who shares Zimmerman's passion for public service.

Man may have found gunman's ammunition

A man walking his dog found a black bag holding ammunition authorities believe was discarded by the suspected gunman. Chief Rick Kastigar with the Pima County Sheriff's Office told the Associated Press that an 18-year-old found the bag Thursday morning in a neighborhood near where the suspect lives.

Times wires

NASA selects backup for Giffords' husband

NASA announced Thursday a backup commander, if necessary, to take the place of the astronaut-husband of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — veteran shuttle commander Rick Sturckow (STUR'-koh), who is the agency's deputy chief astronaut. Officially, Capt. Mark Kelly, who is Giffords' husband of more than three years, is still the commander for the final scheduled flight of the space shuttle program, NASA said. The shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to launch on April 19 on a trip to the International Space Station. Kelly said in a statement released by NASA that he recommended to the space agency that they "take steps now to prepare to complete the mission in my absence if necessary. I am very hopeful that I will be in a position to rejoin my crew members to finish our training."

Judge named to preside over federal trial in Ariz. shooting 01/13/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 10:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Homer-happiness returns against Blue Jays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are back to hitting home runs, which was the norm of the offense for much of the season before the offense went cold.

    Adeiny Hechavarria greets teammate Kevin Kiermaier after his home run during the third inning at the Trop.
  2. Jones: Stop talking and start building a new Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was good to see Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, talking Rays baseball and the hope for a new stadium somewhere in Tampa Bay.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred is popular with the media on a visit to Tropicana Field.
  3. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  4. What do kids need to stay away from deadly auto theft epidemic?

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — More than a dozen black teenagers told U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist on Wednesday that children need stronger mentors and youth programs to steer clear of the auto theft epidemic plaguing Pinellas County.

    Congressman Charlie Crist (center) listens as Shenyah Ruth (right), a junior at Northeast High School, talks during Wednesday's youth roundtable meeting with community leaders and kids. They met to discuss the ongoing car theft epidemic among Pinellas youth and how law enforcement, elected officials, and community organizations can work together to put an end to this dangerous trend. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]