The 16 federal judges who serve in the District of Arizona came back to work Monday morning to a different landscape, their lives and jobs turned upside down by the death of Chief Judge John M. Roll, who was killed on Saturday in the attack in Tucson.
We caught up this morning with three judges on the bench, Stephen McNamee, Frederick Martone, and James Teilborg, all of whom sit in Phoenix.
The judges all said that the weekend was extraordinarily difficult, and reported being in various states of shock and disbelief. Said Judge Teilborg: “We got the news like the proverbial ton of bricks and I think each of us were in a state of disbelief. Well, today that state of disbelief continues.”
Added Judge Martone: “It was a pretty awful weekend. We’re all stunned and a little numb, and more than a little weepy.”
Some of the judges, Judge Teilborg and McNamee included, traveled the two-plus hours southeast from Phoenix to Tucson to give their condolences to Roll’s wife, Maureen, and his three children, all of whom had congregated at the Roll home after the incident. Teilborg called the visit “bittersweet,” and reported that the family had been relying on its “deep and abiding faith” to “carry it through.”
Come Monday morning, however, it was time to report back to work and attend to business at hand.
Replacing Judge Roll as chief judge of the district: Roslyn Silver, a Clinton appointee who also sits in Phoenix (not Raner Collins, who some outlets reported would take over as chief judge). Silver ascends by federal statute, which states that the senior-most active judge (as opposed to “senior-status” judge) under the age of 65 shall be the chief.
Judge Teilborg said the court had decided not to postpone any of the court’s business this week. “The thought that carried the day for some of us was Judge Roll would have wanted us to go forward with things,” he said. “In fact, he was such a humble man, it would probably trouble him to know what a fuss is being made over our loss of him.”
Some of the coverage of Judge Roll from the weekend noted that, as chief judge, he’d spent many hours in recent months lobbying for more resources for the district, which is reportedly straining under an ever-increasing caseload. The death of Roll, said the judges on Monday, only threatens to make the problem worse.
“Judge Roll had a large docket,” said Judge McNamee. “This will definitely just make the caseload problem more extreme.”