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.
All 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.