Born in Litchfield, Connecticut, he was an attorney in private practice both in Connecticut and New York. He was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1808 to 1810. He served as District Attorney for the 4th District of New York in 1811 and was United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York from 1815 to 1819. He was a member of the New York State Senate from 1817 to 1821. In 1821, he was a member of the Council of Appointment.
On November 24, 1819, Skinner received a recess appointment from President James Monroe to a seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York vacated by Matthias Burnett Tallmadge. Formally nominated on January 3, 1820, Skinner was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 5, 1820, and received his commission the same day. He served thereafter until his death, in 1825, in Albany, New York. He was one of the early members of the Albany Regency.
- Roger Skinner at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
-  Political Graveyard
-  NY History