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MIAMI � A Miami federal courthouse will officially be named after a popular deceased judge known for his rulings desegregating Miami schools and championing the rights of homeless people and Cuban and Haitian boat people. The courthouse now known as the “Tower Building” will be officially renamed the C. Clyde Atkins United States Courthouse at a ceremony Jan. 28 outside the courthouse. It is the last of four Miami federal courthouses to be named after a federal judge. Atkins, who died in 1999, was a judge in the southern district of Florida from 1966 until his death at 84 and served as chief judge from 1977 to 1983. He was nominated to the bench by President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1992, Atkins held that the city of Miami had violated the Constitution by letting police harass the homeless and ordered authorities to create two “safe zones” where they could eat and sleep without being arrested. The eventual settlement reached with the city served as a model for other cities. Atkins also fought the Bush and Clinton administrations’ policy of refusing Cuban and Haitian boat people asylum in the United States. In another noteworthy ruling in 1970, Atkins ruled that the city of Miami had to give poet Allen Ginsberg another reading after city workers cut off his microphone when he used obscenities. Atkins declared freedom of expression “a sacred constitutional right.” Atkins had to have bodyguards after his early rulings on school desegregation, recalled Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. “He forever changed Miami, for the better,” Simon said. “He harkens back to a different judicial era where judges heroically defended civil liberties, unlike the present era where judges spend hours trying to figure out technicalities to keep people from getting in the door of the federal courts.” A devout Catholic, Atkins served as Miami regional chairman of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. In 1997, the C. Clyde Atkins Moot Court Serves was endowed at the University of Miami Law School. Ed Davis, former chief judge of the southern district of Florida and now a partner at Akerman Senterfitt in Miami, said Atkins deserved the honor. “He was very well-liked in the community,” Davis said. “He’s a wonderful example of what a federal judge should be. He was diligent, he was intelligent, he was hard-working, and he had no agenda except for the interest of justice.”

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