Larry Burns

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This page is about the United States District Court for the Southern District of California judge. If you're looking for the 2014 candidate for the Lea County Magistrate Court in New Mexico, please visit: Larry Burns (New Mexico).

Larry Burns
Court Information:
United States District Court for the Southern District of California
Title:   Judge
Position:   Seat #9
Appointed by:   George W. Bush
Active:   9/25/2003 - Present
Preceded by:   116 Stat. 1758
Past post:   Federal Magistrate Judge
Past term:   1997 - 2003
Personal History
Born:   1954
Hometown:   Pasadena, CA
Undergraduate:   Point Loma College, B.A., 1976
Law School:   University of San Diego School of Law, J.D., 1979

Larry Alan Burns is a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. He joined the court in 2003 after being nominated by President George W. Bush.

Early life and education

Born in Pasadena, CA, Burns graduated from Point Loma College with his bachelor's degree in 1976 and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1979.[1]

Professional career

Burns began his legal career as a deputy district attorney for San Diego County, where he served from 1979 to 1985. In 1985 he joined the U.S. Attorney's Office as Assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California, and served there until 1997.[1]

Judicial career

Southern District of California

Burns began his federal judicial career as a federal magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. Burns was appointed to a full eight-year term in 1997. He served in that role until 2003 when he was elevated to an Article III judgeship.

Burns was nominated by President George W. Bush on May 1, 2003 to a new judgeship created by 116 Stat. 1758 which was approved by Congress. Burns was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on September 24, 2003 on a unopposed 91-0-9 vote and received commission on September 25, 2003.[2][1]

Notable cases

San Diego hilltop cross must be removed

     United States District Court for the Southern District of California
In December 2013, Judge Burns ruled that the large cross on the Mount Soledad hilltop cross violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The cross is on public land, as part of a National War Memorial in La Jolla.[3] The cross was erected in 1954 and has been challenged in the courts since 1989. Since 2006, the cross has been federal property. Previously, the Ninth Circuit decided that the cross does amount to government's establishment of religion. In 2012, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the ruling, sending it back to the district court.[4]

Tucson shooter (2011)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of California (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. JARED LEE LOUGHNER, No. 4:11-cr-00187-LAB-1)

On January 13, 2011, Burns was assigned to hear the case of Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner after all of the federal judges in Arizona recused themselves from it.[5] Loughner was accused of a shooting outside of a grocery store in Tucson resulting in the death of six people, including a 9-year-old girl and federal judge John Roll; and the injury of 12 others, including state Representative Gabrielle Giffords. [6] On May 25, 2011, Judge Burns ruled that Loughner was not mentally competent to stand trial and suspended the court proceedings against him. Burns reviewed footage of interviews between Loughner and an expert psychologist and psychiatrist, both of whom diagnosed Loughner with schizophrenia, and agreed with their diagnoses. He ordered Loughner to undergo treatment for up to four months, during which time his mental competence was evaluated. On August 7, 2012, after it was determined that he was competent to stand trial, Loughner plead guilty all 19 charges he faced.[7]

Excessive police force lawsuit (2009)

     United States District Court for the Southern District of California (CARL BRYAN v. BRIAN MACPHERSON, No. 3:06-CV-01487-LAB-CAB)

On August 5, 2009, Judge Burns dismissed a lawsuit by a man who sued the Post Falls Police Department over using excessive force. Scott Carter sued the police on claims that excessive force was used during a traffic stop in which an officer threw Carter head-first to the ground causing injury. Judge Burns found that Carter did not have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to prove the allegations.[8] Judge Burns' decision was overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.[9]

See also

External links


Political offices
Preceded by:
NA-New Seat
Southern District of California
Seat #9
Succeeded by: