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Arizona mourns judge killed in mass shooting

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: U.S. senators propose naming a planned federal courthouse after Judge Roll
  • Roll's funeral comes a day after the service for the youngest victim
  • Roll was Arizona's chief federal judge
  • Six people were killed in the Arizona shooting rampage

Tucson, Arizona (CNN) -- Arizonans paid tribute Friday morning to the federal judge killed in the deadly shooting rampage last weekend in Tucson.

U.S. District Judge John Roll was one of six people gunned down Saturday when he dropped by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' meet-and-greet in a supermarket parking lot.

The funeral service for the revered 63-year-old jurist was held at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson.

Roll's service came a day after a memorial was held for Christina Green, 9, the youngest victim of the mass shooting. In addition to the six deaths, 13 others, including Giffords, were wounded in the gunfire.

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Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl, both Republicans, said Friday they will introduce legislation to name a new federal courthouse in Yuma after Roll.

The courthouse is about to be built, and Roll, as Arizona's chief federal judge, recently approved the plans for the building, according to Brooke Buchanan, an aide to McCain.

President Barack Obama described Roll as "the hardest-working judge" within the 9th Circuit in a speech Wednesday night at a public memorial at the University of Arizona.

McCain called Roll "a man of great qualities and character." He had recommended him for the federal bench 20 years ago.

Chief Justice John Roberts said Roll was "a wise jurist who selflessly served Arizona and the nation with great distinction, as attorney and judge, for more than 35 years," McCain said.

President George H.W. Bush appointed Roll, a Pennsylvania native, to the bench, and he rose to become the state's chief federal judge.

Two years ago, he received death threats after ruling that a $32 million civil rights lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against a rancher could proceed, a ruling that sparked outrage from radio talk-show hosts and others.

Roll was placed under protection by federal marshals for several weeks. No one was charged in the case.

The jurist also received criticism recently when he asked to delay bringing felons to trial in Tucson, citing a judicial emergency. He said in a November letter to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the ever-increasing number of federal felony arrests had overwhelmed his court.

Roll also had been assigned to hear a case on ethnic studies, according to the lead attorney in the case, Richard Martinez. The case, out of Tucson, involves a new law banning certain ethnic studies programs in public schools.

Tucson resident Jared Lee Loughner, 22, is facing federal charges in Saturday's attack.

Police said Loughner targeted Giffords and had complained about the lawmaker for years after apparently getting a response he didn't like to a question he asked her at a 2007 event.

The shooting set off a political firestorm across the country, with some pundits saying that extreme partisan politics played a role in the mass killing.

On Thursday, family, friends, classmates and hundreds of mourners filled St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Tucson for the funeral service for Christina Green, the 9-year-old.

All of them passed under a giant American flag that was recovered in the aftermath of the terror attacks in New York on September 11, 2001 -- the day Christina was born.

Dozens of other mourners paid their respects by standing outside the church, which was filled to capacity.

Obama noted Wednesday that Christina was beginning to discover the political system -- something that she saw "through the eyes of a child."

"I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it," Obama said. "All of us -- we should do everything we can do to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations."

CNN's Ted Barrett contributed to this story.

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