NBC is reporting that Chief Judge John Roll has also died in the shooting incident that also targeted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tuscon, Arizona today.
Roll was appointed to the US. District Court for the District of Arizona in 1991 by George H.W. Bush, and served as the court’s lead judicial administrative officer.
Roll received death threats in 2009 after he ruled that a case filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher could go forward. Four men were identified, but Roll did not press charges on the advice of the Marshals Service:
In February, when U.S. District Judge John Roll presided over a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher, the Marshals Service was anticipating the fallout.
When Roll ruled the case could go forward, Gonzales said talk-radio shows cranked up the controversy and spurred audiences into making threats.
In one afternoon, Roll logged more than 200 phone calls. Callers threatened the judge and his family. They posted personal information about Roll online.
“They said, ‘We should kill him. He should be dead,’ ” Gonzales said.
Roll, who is the chief federal judge in Arizona, said both he and his wife were given a protection detail for about a month.
“It was unnerving and invasive. . . . By its nature it has to be,” Roll said, adding that they were encouraged to live their lives as normally as possible. “It was handled very professionally by the Marshals Service.”
At the end of the month, Roll said four key men had been identified as threat makers.
The Marshals Service left to him the decision to press charges but recommended against it. Roll said he had no qualms about following their advice.
The recommendation was based on the intent of those making the threats.
“I have a very strong belief that there is nothing wrong with criticizing a judicial decision,” he said. “But when it comes to threats, that is an entirely different matter.”
Roll has served as the chief judge of the District of Arizona since 2006.