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Collins takes top federal court position after Roll is killed

Arizona federal Judge Raner C. Collins will take over Arizona’s chief federal judge position, replacing John Roll, who was killed in the Jan. 8 mass shooting in Tucson.

Collins’ selection for the top post on the federal district court comes without any of the nomination or confirmation process required for an initial appointment.

Selecting chief judges, for any court other than the U.S. Supreme Court, is based simply on seniority.

Collins was nominated for the Arizona federal court by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in 1998. During his time there, Collins ruled on high-profile cases, including an endangered-species case, an abortion law case, and a 2006 English-learners case.

Collins, born in Malvern, Ark. in 1952, earned a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas Polytechnic College in 1973, then earned his law degree from the University of Arizona in 1975, according to a government database of federal judiciary information.

Collins worked as an attorney in the Pima County Attorney’s Office and as a Tucson city magistrate, until joining the Pima County Superior Court of Arizona in 1985 as a temporary judge. Former Gov. Rose Mofford appointed him as a permanent member of the bench in 1988. He served there until his federal court appointment in 1998.

Although many politicians who opposed Collins’ rulings on contentious cases, such as the English-learner case, made claims that Collins legislated from the bench, Mofford praised Collins’ acumen when she made him a permanent member of the Pima County Superior Court in 1988.

“He is superbly qualified and has garnered a reputation of fairness among his peers in the legal profession,” Mofford said of Collins.

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