To those close friends and families of those slain last Saturday morning outside the Safeway grocery store, January 8 will mark a profound loss that will – even with the passage of time – likely leave an indelible imprint for years and decades to come. The unjustified taking of any life at the hands of another is never acceptable – whether that person be a politician, a judge, a nine-year-old girl, or an elderly retiree.
Some pundits have listed Arizona as the epicenter of violence – from the passage of SB-1070 to Judge Roll’s certification of a lawsuit brought forth by illegal immigrants against ranchers here in Southern Arizona. Even Sheriff Dupnik – in his official capacity – outrageously decried Arizona as the “Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
While unfortunate that this tragedy has resulted in political finger-pointing, it’s important to remember those lives so indiscriminately taken – among those Chief Judge John Roll. Though I have met Judge Roll personally, I better knew of him through reputation. In 2008, he lectured during my Blackstone Internship and also at the law school.
Many others can, and have, extolled his soundness as a lawyer and jurist; but I knew of his character commitment to the faith. Anytime a solid Christian passes away, a time for mourning is all but inevitable – not only at death, but also for the void that is left from that pillar in the family and the community. If there is a ever a glimmer it is this: for those in Christ, death is not the end. Even the worst tragedies can birth well-springs of life, of hope, and of a stronger future. May God raise up other lawyers and defenders of truth to take his place.
Update: In a powerful tribute to Judge Roll, federal courthouses around the nation lower flags to half-mast.