Name change approved for Memphis federal building

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Legislation to rename the main federal building in Memphis to honor former U.S. District Judge Odell Horton has been signed into law.

Horton, who died last year at age 77, was appointed to the federal bench in 1980 by former President Jimmy Carter to become the first U.S. District Court judge in Tennessee since Reconstruction.

The legislation was proposed in the House by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who introduced a companion measure in the Senate, announced its signing Thursday by President Bush.

The bill allows changing the courthouse name to the Clifford Davis and Odell Horton Federal Building. It is now named solely for former Memphis Congressman Clifford Davis.

Horton earned a law degree from Howard University and went into private practice in Memphis in 1956. He later became a state Criminal Court judge and a federal bankruptcy court judge.       He was chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee from 1987 to 1993. He retired in 1997.

"I know Odell must be smiling in heaven," said Evie Horton, his widow and wife of more than 50 years.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)