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"A family man, a man of deep faith, above all a man of the law:" Yuma courthouse officially dedicated in honor of slain Judge Roll

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"A family man, a man of deep faith, above all a man of the law:" Yuma courthouse officially dedicated in honor of slain Judge Roll

By Justin Schecker. CREATED Apr 25, 2014

YUMA, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - The dedication ceremony for the new Yuma federal courthouse in honor of Judge John M. Roll was held Thursday afternoon.

Judge Roll was one of the six victims killed at the hands of the gunman during the January 8th mass shooting at a northwest side Safeway. 

"A family man, a man of deep faith, above all a man of the law who really believed in justice and the law," Rep. Ron Barber said of Roll after the ceremony. 
 
Roll was Arizona's Chief Federal Judge when he was killed visiting his friend former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. 
 
This may be the first time a man responsible for building a new federal courthouse also has it named in his honor, Senator John McCain said.
 
"This courthouse today would not be here today if not for John Roll," McCain added in an interview with 9 On Your Side. 
 
From all the speakers' accounts at the dedication ceremony, Judge Roll would rather have been there than had Arizona's newest district courthouse bear his name. 
 
"His intentions were not to cement a legacy in brick and mortar...to those who knew him, maintaining a reputation as a fair ethical and intelligent jurist was legacy enough," Senator Jeff Flake said. 
 
Roll's legacy is highlighted by two decades on the federal bench in Arizona. George W. Bush appointed him to the post in 1991 and in 2006 he became the district's chief judge. 
 
Faced with a growing caseload from an increase in illegal immigration and border violence, Judge Roll partnered with Giffords to secure funding for the new federal facility in Yuma.
 
"Because we didn't have an adequate courthouse in Yuma, many of those cases were being held in Tucson which was not ideal," Rep. Barber said. 
 
Giffords shared a moment with Roll's widow Maureen, before later sharing a message from the podium. 
 
"Like John Roll, get involved in your community, be a leader, set an example, be passionate, be courageous, be your best, thank you very much," Giffords said.
 
Roll was a leader who lost his life two soon at the Gifford's Congress on Your Corner event. 
 
Rep. Barber was the last person to speak with Roll before the gunman opened fire. 
 
"John sort of leaned into me and took another bullet," Rep. Barber said. "That bullet could well have hit me and who knows what the consequences would be. Whether he did it deliberately or not I can't say, but I believe that John would have had the courage to try to save me if that was intent."
 
Speakers repeatedly used the word "humble" to describe Roll. 
 
Maureen Roll told 9 On Your Side before the ceremony her husband would have chose hundreds of names before his own for the new Yuma courthouse. 
Justin Schecker

Justin Schecker

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Justin Schecker reports for KGUN 9 ON Your Side at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00. He joined KGUN9 in September of 2012 and spent his first year in Tucson covering overnight breaking news for Good Morning Tucson.