Arizona Federal Gets First Black Chief Judge

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The 9th Circuit announced Monday the appointment of Raner Collins, the first black federal chief judge in Arizona.
     Collins succeeds Judge Rosalyn Silver, who made history in 2011 as the first woman to lead the Arizona district of the U.S. District Court. He takes over a court with a substantial criminal caseload – driven by illegal immigration and drug smuggling over the U.S.-Mexico border – and at a time when sequestration has decimated federal court budgets, the 9th Circuit’s public information office said in a statement.
     “This has been an extremely difficult year for our court budget-wise,” Collins said. “I am very concerned for our employees and about what is happening to court services.”
     He added: “I intend to add my voice to the chorus of other voices calling upon Congress to fully fund the Judiciary as an equal branch of government. I don’t think full funding has been the case for sometime now.”
     Born in Arkansas, Collins earned a bachelor’s degree from what is now Arkansas Tech University and his J.D. from the University of Arizona College of Law. He worked as a law clerk and trial attorney for the Pima County District Attorney’s Office from 1975 to 1981, when he became a magistrate for the city court in Tucson.
     Collins served as judge with the Pima County Superior Court from 1985 until 1998. In 1998, he became one of two black judges nominated by President Bill Clinton for the federal court in Arizona.

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