Feds Charge Jared Loughner With Murder of Federal Judge and Child Victim

The Government has obtained a 49 count superseding Indictment against Jared Loughner, accused of attempting to kill Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. He's now also charged with killing Chief Judge John Roll, whom the Indictment says was a federal employee engaged in the performance of his duties. He's also charged with causing the death of the young girl. The Superseding Indictment is available here.

At the end of the Indictment there's a special findings section, that reads like a list of aggravating factors for the death penalty.

I assume from this that the feds intend to seek the death penalty (although they haven't yet filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty) and that Loughner will not face prosecution in state court for the murders.

If Loughner is only going to be prosecuted in federal court, I think his lawyers are breathing a little easier today. [More...]

Many of the new charges are under a civil rights act provision:

The additional charges were made under a provision in federal civil rights law that is usually applied to hate crimes, but can be extended to crimes against any person "participating in or enjoying any benefit, service, privilege, program, facility, or activity provided or administered by the United States" - in this case, Giffords' "Congress on Your Corner," a meet-and-greet event with her Tucson constituents.

The federal law forbids anyone from injuring, intimidating or interfering with any such person, or even attempting to do so.

The Judge ordered both sides today to present a proposed hearing and trial schedule. He said he expects to set the trial to begin before September 20. (If there's a request for the death penalty, I expect the trial date to be continued.)

In other case news, the Judge refused an unopposed request by the Government to gag the Medical Examiner and bar the release of the autopsy reports, saying the Goverment could refile if it could make a showing that the Medical Examiner intended to make prejudicial public statements or release the autopsy reports.

And the defense is battling to stop the Bureau of Prisons from releasing medical and psychological reports on Loughner to the FBI. The defense points to a BOP regulation that prevents such sharing, and says Loughner intends to exercise all of his constitutional rights with respect to such information.

The next hearing is March 9, at which hearing and trial dates will be set.

Update: Here is Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke's press release on the superseding indictment in which he discusses the death penalty and links to DOJ policy on it. His decision isn't the final one. It will then go to DOJ's capital case unit. Among their rules:
In any case in which (1) the United States Attorney recommends that the Attorney General authorize seeking the death penalty, or (2) a member of the Capital Review Committee requests a Committee conference, a Capital Case Unit attorney will confer with representatives of the United States Attorney's Office to establish a date and time for the Capital Review Committee to meet with defense counsel and representatives of the United States Attorney's Office to consider the case. No final decision to seek the death penalty shall be made if defense counsel has not been afforded an opportunity to present evidence and argument in mitigation. (my emphasis)
The Capital case unit will then make a recommendation to the Attorney General, through the Deputy Attorney General.
If the Committee's recommendation differs from that of the United States Attorney, the United States Attorney shall be provided with a copy of the Committee's recommendation memorandum when it is transmitted to the Deputy Attorney General. The United States Attorney may respond to the Committee's analysis in a memorandum directed to the Deputy Attorney General. The Deputy Attorney General will then make a recommendation to the Attorney General. The Attorney General will make the final decision whether the Government should file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty.
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    The superseding indictment (none / 0) (#1)
    by Peter G on Fri Mar 04, 2011 at 02:13:53 PM EST
    charges that, one way or another, each of the killings that occurred that day was a federal offense.  The assassination charge for the death of Judge Roll is pretty weak, as I think I understand the facts.  The death of Giffords' aide, Gabriel Zimmerman, is a more straightforward federal murder.  Charging the deaths of the civilians who were in attendance as a civil rights murder (18 U.S.C. 245, treating the "Congress on Your Corner" event as a "federal ... program ... or activity" that the civilians were "enjoying the benefit of") is, shall we say, rather creative.

    Thats what I was thinking... (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 04, 2011 at 02:26:56 PM EST
    how could a federal judge be on the clock in a supermarket parking lot?  Wouldn't he need to be in court or in chambers to be on the clock?

    No (none / 0) (#3)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 04, 2011 at 02:29:35 PM EST
    The initial argument I heard was that the judge was stopping by to see the Congresswoman to discuss some court business with her, and since he knew she was speaking near where he lived, he thought he would stop by.  Apparently, this was common for the judge.

    But, that's what the government is going to have to prove.


    No that's not the test (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 04, 2011 at 02:37:14 PM EST
    He had been discussing the critical need for more AZ judges with her aide that week, and was stopping by to thank him or her for their assistance in his effort. Or something close to that. In any event, his appearance at the event was connected to his efforts to resolve the judge shortage in which he had enlisted her support. That would be enough of a connection, in my view.

    I'm not even sure the defense will contest that. If they won, they'd be facing a death penalty trial in state court over Judge Roll and that's a worse place to be, from a defense point of view.


    Gotcha... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 04, 2011 at 03:25:54 PM EST

    That's a switch from the norm eh?  Trying to stay outta state court and in federal.


    I would think (none / 0) (#7)
    by CST on Fri Mar 04, 2011 at 03:42:36 PM EST
    that would depend greatly on the state.

    AZ?  I'd probably rather be in federal court.

    Also, aren't federal prisons generally considered nicer than the state variety?


    Depends... (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 04, 2011 at 03:51:19 PM EST
    Supermax ain't nicer than Rikers.

    Federal mandatory mins are often more draconian than state law...but like you said; case by case, state by state sounds right.


    He Ain't Getting Out (none / 0) (#9)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Mar 04, 2011 at 04:49:52 PM EST
    Ever.  So sentencing guidelines are irrelevant.

    In either case he's going to have to be in solitary for his own safety.

    The only added benefit to the State lock-up would be visitation, if they ship him across the country, his family would be limited to the visits.

    But Arizona isn't exactly know for it's human treatment of prisoners, so it could go either way.  Me I would need some regular family contact, but him, if he's as crazy as I think, that might not matter.


    It's also that AZ (none / 0) (#13)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 01:46:20 AM EST
    doesn't have not guilty by insanity. It has a verdict of guilty, but insane and what that means is that the convicted insane defendant goes to a mental hospital, and if he's ever declared sane, he goes to prison to serve out the rest of his sentence.

    Talk about crazy! (none / 0) (#14)
    by NYShooter on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 09:52:23 AM EST
    So the State says, "you're insane," which by definition, means you were not in charge of your  faculties. So we'll cure you, and then send you to jail, as if you were sane all the time.
    Hey, somebody's gotta pay, right? "No revenge, no justice."

    Just barbaric!


    I think (none / 0) (#15)
    by nyjets on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 10:52:14 AM EST
    I think part of the feeling is that if a person is insane, the person can not handle prison (or prison can  not handle the person). Therefore if the person is cured, prison can handle the person (or vice versa).

    Also, I think people beleive (I am one of them) that being insane does not justify a person actions. IOW, they still need to be punished.


    I remember considering this (none / 0) (#10)
    by andgarden on Fri Mar 04, 2011 at 05:09:53 PM EST
    on the day of/after the shootings. I wonder if this statute would make the exercise of road rage on a highway subsidized by the trust fund a Federal crime?

    doesnt the child (none / 0) (#5)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Mar 04, 2011 at 02:42:03 PM EST
    pretty much assure they will seek the death penalty?

    even more than the judge?

    the judge has no say (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 01:42:03 AM EST
    in whether the Government seeks the death penalty. The decision is up to the Attorney General, who considers the report of DOJ's capital case unit.

    The Judge also can't impose the death penalty in federal cases unless the jury votes unanimously for it. If it's 11 to 1 for death, the judge must impose life.


    I think he meant (none / 0) (#16)
    by jbindc on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 11:38:30 AM EST
    The death of the child would guarantee that the state would seek the death penalty, as opposed to the death of the judge guaranteeing the state seek the death penalty.

    I don't think was talking about the judge presiding over any trial.


    yes (none / 0) (#17)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 09:17:29 AM EST
    thank you.
    thats what I meant.