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Judge named for Jared Lee Loughner’s trial

The same San Diego-based federal judge who presided over the corruption trial of former Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham will handle the prosecution of Jared Lee Loughner, the man accused of killing six and wounding more than a dozen including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday in Tucson, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced today.

Larry BurnsAll federal judges in Arizona had recused themselves from the case, as Chief District Judge John Roll as among the slain. U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns of California’s Southern District was appointed this afternoon by 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski.

Burns, 56, was nominated to the bench in May 2003 by President George W. Bush and was unanimously confirmed that September by the U.S. Senate. Besides the Cunningham case, other high-profile cases over which he as presided include the prosecution and sentencing of Javier Arellano-Felix, head of the Arellano-Felix drug cartel, on murder, drug trafficking and racketeering charges; and a challenge to the presence of a Latin cross on Mount Soledad in La Jolla.

Earlier, Burns was a U.S. Magistrate Judge in San Diego for six years; an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California from 1985 through 1997; and a San Diego County Deputy District Attorney from 1979 through 1985. As a prosecutor, he tried approximately 200 cases to jury verdicts and argued more than 40 cases before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. He also taught college, graduate school and law school courses for many years before going on the bench, and in 1996 was recognized by San Diego State University with the University’s Faculty Mentoring Award. He earned an undergraduate degree in 1976 from Point Loma College (now Point Lorna Nazarene University) and a law degree in 1979 from the University of San Diego School of Law.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Jason

    Judge has a great reputation in San Diego- good selection by the 9th circuit.

  • ralph hoffmann

    Will the trial also will be held in San Diego?

  • Josh Richman

    Ralph: The case remains in Arizona for now, but one of the defense attorneys has indicated they might seek a change of venue; if so, the judge’s regular seat might be a likely choice.

  • ralph hoffmann

    Josh: I predict a change of venue request from AZ to CA by the defense.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Ralphie: What’s the story? Venue changes ain’t tossed around like food wrappers in a middle school.

  • dave

    Perhaps the judge should remember what branch of the government he represents. Judge don’t legislate.