WASHINGTON — The federal courthouse in Sherman was renamed after former judge and longtime local legal figure Paul Brown under a bill President Obama signed into law on Friday.

WASHINGTON — The federal courthouse in Sherman was renamed after former judge and longtime local legal figure Paul Brown under a bill President Obama signed into law on Friday.

The building at 101 E. Pecan St. is now named the "Paul Brown United States Courthouse."

Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, introduced the bill this year to rename the courthouse saying Brown was a good friend, respected judge and beloved member of the Sherman community.

The legislation was among eight bills the president signed into law on Friday, according to a release issued by the White House. It passed the Senate by unanimous consent on Tuesday and cleared the House in October, by a vote of 402-1.

Judge Brown’s nephew, Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown said, when asked about the name change, "We are so proud of that great honor. Judge Brown loved this area, he loved the law, and he worked very hard to make the legal system better and fair for everyone."

U.S. Magistrate Judge Amos Mazzant agreed that Judge Brown would be pleased with the new name.

"Judge Brown would be humbled, moved and honored by this tribute," Mazzant said. "Judge Brown loved the law and was a guardian of justice, and the naming of the courthouse after him would be a great legacy. From a personal perspective, Judge Brown shaped my career path. He was my mentor and my confidant. Seeing his name on the courthouse will be a reminder of the kind of person we should all strive to be, both personally and professionally."

It is fitting that Judge Brown’s name will now mark the federal courthouse in Sherman, not only because of the work he did there, but also because of the care he took of the building. In an interview just before he took senior status, Judge Brown talked in glowing terms about the Spanish Colonial Revival Beaux Arts style building that was completed in 1907 for a cost of $140,000 (according to the historical marker that sits on the lot with the building). While Judge Brown, who said he considered being an engineer before going into law, respected the majesty inherent in the building’s courtroom, he was not content to let it remain relic of history. His was the first fully electronic courtroom in the Eastern District of Texas complete with a sound system and large video screens for evidence presentation.

The lone dissent in the vote to rename the courthouse was cast by Rep, Mark Sanford, R-S.C.

Sanford opposes naming public works for people, according to his top aide. In 1998 he was one of three Republicans who voted in Congress against adding Ronald Reagan’s name to Washington National Airport.

Brown died at age 86 just over a year ago. The House passed a similar courthouse-naming bill last December, a few weeks after his death but the Senate did not act on it.

Hall reintroduced the legislation when a new Congress convened in January.

Brown, a Grayson County native, enjoyed a long legal career in Texas. In 1985 he was proposed by Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, and nominated by President Ronald Reagan to become federal judge in the Eastern District of Texas, where he served until his death.

Brown heard cases in Beaumont, Paris, Sherman and Texarkana but eventually presided exclusively in the Sherman courthouse as the caseload grew in that part of the district.

The judge handled civil cases but also criminal cases growing from the savings and loan failures of the 1980s and 1990s, and later a growing number of drug cases, Hall noted in an earlier article.

"No matter what type of cases came before him, Judge Brown always enjoyed the work and ran an efficient and orderly courtroom," Hall said. "His personal work ethic and judicial integrity were remarkable, and his reputation for punctuality is legendary."

After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Brown obtained a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1950 and entered private practice in Sherman. He was named an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas in 1953, and was appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to become U.S. Attorney in 1959. He served there for two years and then resumed private practice until he was confirmed a federal judge.