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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Editorial: Arizona judges made right decision about shooter

    Since Saturday’s shooting, much has been said about Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old man suspected of critically wounding Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, killing six others and injuring 13 more people.

     ””Accused”” is the key word. Despite the endless speculation about Loughner’s childhood, his relationship with his parents, his friendships or his mental health, Loughner has not been convicted of any crime, and won’t be until he is granted his fair trial, as is his constitutional right.

    Five federal charges were filed against Loughner on Sunday. He is accused of shooting Giffords, the representative of Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, and four other federal employees, including John Roll, Arizona’s chief federal judge.

    On Wednesday, all Arizona federal judges recused themselves from Loughner’s case. Earlier, all federal judges assigned to Tucson were barred from presiding over his case. U.S. District Judge Raner Collins in Tucson ruled that the recusal was mandated to avoid the appearance of “”impropriety.””

    Court officials have confirmed that Alex Kozinski, the chief judge for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, has appointed Judge Larry A. Burns of the Southern District of California to Loughner’s trial.

    It is difficult to imagine any federal judge in Arizona maintaining a sense of objectivity while presiding over Loughner’s trial. Roll was their colleague, and his death presents a conflict of interest for them. The recusal of Arizona’s judges demonstrates a commitment to the judicial system, and an understanding that even in the cases about the most heinous of crimes, the accused deserve the opportunity to defend themselves against the charges filed against them in a fair trial.

    Although Loughner’s attorney has not formally requested a change of location, it is the next step to ensuring that Loughner’s trial is fair. Arizona was left reeling by Saturday’s shooting, and understandably cannot provide the impartial jury that Loughner is guaranteed.

    Despite the horrifying reports of Saturday morning’s chaos, and the trail of desperate questions about Loughner that followed the tragedy, he is entitled to the same Constitutional rights as every other U.S. citizen. To provide anything less than fair would be disrespectful to Roll’s memory and a dishonor to his profession.

    We commend the judges for recognizing a weakness and righting the situation.

    — Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat editorial board and written by one of its members. They are Kristina Bui, Michelle A. Monroe, Ken Contrata and Heather Price-Wright. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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