Judge John Roll, RIP

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 8 2011 6:21 PM

Judge John Roll, RIP

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) may pull through today, but Judge John Roll has died . In 2009, Jerry Markon profiled Roll in a piece about judges whose lives were threatened after making controversial decisions.

Hundreds of threats cascaded into the chambers of John M. Roll, the chief U.S. district judge in Arizona, in February after he allowed a lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against a rancher to go forward. "They cursed him out, threatened to kill his family, said they'd come and take care of him. They really wanted him dead," said a law enforcement official who heard the calls -- which came from as far as Richmond and Baltimore -- but spoke on condition of anonymity because no one has been charged.

David Gonzales, the U.S. marshal in Arizona, said deputies went online and found Roll's home address posted on a Web site containing threatening comments. They put the judge under 24-hour protection for about a month, guarding his home in a secluded area just outside Tucson, screening his mail and escorting him to court, to the gym and to Mass. "Some deputies went to church more in a week than they had in their lives," Gonzales said.

Roll said that " any judge who goes through this knows it's a stressful situation " and that he and his family were grateful for the protection.

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David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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