A new federal courthouse in Yuma, Ariz., named for slain U.S. District Chief Judge John M. Roll, was formally dedicated in a ceremony attended by his family, prominent lawmakers, and former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely wounded in the 2011 mass shooting that took Judge Roll’s life.
More than 500 attended the April 24 dedication. Speakers included U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, U.S. Reps. Raul M. Grijalva, Paul Gosar and Ron Barber; Chief Judge Raner Collins, of the District of Arizona; former Rep. Giffords; and three sons of Judge Roll.
As chief judge of the District of Arizona, Judge Roll had considered the Yuma courthouse a top priority, and he had signed off on the courthouse’s Southwestern architectural design just a few days before his death.
The $33.4 million sandstone courthouse will house two magistrate judges’ courtrooms, judges’ chambers, jury facilities, and offices for probation and pretrial staff, court clerks, and the U.S. Marshals Service. The courtrooms will also be used by district court and bankruptcy court judges.
The 56,800-square-foot courthouse contains numerous environmentally sensitive features, including a large canopy of solar panels at the entrance that will generate almost one-quarter of the building’s electricity needs. According to the General Services Administration, the courthouse is expected to achieve a LEED Gold certification.
The dedication ceremony included remarks from Judge Roll’s sons, Robert, Christopher and Patrick Roll. The program also included a statement from Judge Roll’s widow, Maureen Roll. “John gave his full attention to every endeavor he undertook, and the Yuma Courthouse was no exception,” she wrote. “To everyone who has been so caring and supportive over the last three years, my family and I are eternally grateful.”
Judge Roll joined the federal bench in 1991, and served as the District of Arizona’s chief judge from 2006 until his death, during a Jan. 8, 2011, constituent event held by Rep. Giffords at a Tucson shopping center. Six people were killed and 13 wounded during the shooting attack. According to law enforcement officials, a security video showed Judge Roll shielding Barber, a Giffords aide who in 2012 succeeded her in Congress.
In an April 24 opinion column, Rep. Giffords hailed Judge Roll's memory and example. "When I think about what I want the rest of my life to be, I think about Judge Roll," Giffords wrote. "A man of family, faith and foundational love for our country, he spent his life in the service of others. And then he died as a hero."