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Naming Raleigh federal building after Helms would have its ironies

The man most responsible for the renovation of the 1878 building, U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Judge J. Rich Leonard, was twice blocked by Helms for higher federal judgeships.

Leonard spent four years starting in 2005 immersing himself in the 19th century architecture and design, helping to bring back to life the building that now serves as both a court house and a U.S. Post office.

There is now a move afoot to name the building after Helms, the Republican senator, who retired in 2003.

One of our judges gets big award

Judge J. Rich Leonard, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District Court of Eastern North Carolina, has picked up some major national kudos.

The American Bar Association had named Leonard as the winner of the Robert B. Yegge Award, which goes to the judge or the lawyer who has made the outstanding contribution in the United States to judicial administration.

Leonard, who has been a bankruptcy judge since 1992, won the award in recognition for his two-decade effort to assist in developing and overseeing electronic case filing and public access systems of the federal courts, his pioneering program to make the digital audio recordings of federal court proceedings available to the public over the Internet, his efforts at training and educating court officials and attorneys in the U.S. and abroad, and for other activities.

He will be given the award at the bar association meeting in Toronto on August 4.

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