San Diego judge to hear Ariz. mass shooting case - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego judge to hear Ariz. mass shooting case

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San Diego (CBS8) - San Diego U.S. District Judge Larry Burns has been appointed to handle the case against Arizona shooting rampage suspect, 22-year-old Jared Loughner.

The decision to name Judge Burns to the case was made after all magistrates and judges in Arizona recused themselves. Their colleague, U.S. District Judge John Roll, was one of six people killed in the shooting.

All Arizona federal public defenders also recused themselves, and so Loughner's defense attorney, Judy Clarke, is based in San Diego as well.  If Clarke believes Loughner won't get a fair trial in Arizona, she may request a change of venue.

San Diego defense attorney Michael Pancer told News 8, "I think if it were me, personally, I'd be uncomfortable having it heard in Arizona. I think I'd want to get away from the epicenter of the activity, where everybody in the state might feel affected by what happened in their state."

Pancer said, public opinion polls help to determine the new location when a change of venue is granted, but San Diego jurors just may end up deciding Loughner's fate if the case goes to trial.  Pancer said, "His legal team is situated in San Diego and the judge assigned to hear the case is from San Diego. I would certainly think that would be an area considered for a change of venue."

Judge Burns has presided over other high profile cases, including the bribery and tax evasion case against former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.  Pancer told News 8, "As a judge, he has a reputation of being real smart, and having a good judicial temperament. I think overall, he's a no-nonsense judge."

Judge Burns is a graduate of what is now Point Loma Nazarene University. He earned his Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1979. He is a 2003 Bush appointee serving in the U.S. District Court for Southern California in San Diego.

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