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Shimmering new federal courthouse declared officially open in ceremony

Sounding like a 19th century bailiff, Michael J. Roemer stood before the crowd of judges, lawyers and politicians, and declared Buffalo's federal courthouse officially open for business.

"God save the United States and this honorable court," the U.S. District Court clerk said in a deep, booming voice that rang throughout the ninth-floor courtroom.

And with that, the latest addition to Buffalo's architectural legacy formally opened it doors Thursday.

The $142 million courthouse, up and running since November, was formally dedicated as part of a two-day celebration that seems destined to lead to its naming for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson.

"Both are true shining gems," Sen. Charles E. Schumer said of Jackson and the new 10-story, glass-enclosed courthouse. "I'm confident the name will be official shortly."

Schumer introduced legislation two weeks ago endorsing Jackson, the Jamestown-area native who went on to become a U.S. solicitor general and Supreme Court justice. He also served as the nation's chief war-crimes prosecutor at Nuremberg.

In choosing Jackson, Schumer joined a growing number of lawmakers and judges who view Jackson as the most logical choice.

Jackson was not the only jurist to receive praise Thursday as speaker after speaker went out of their way to thank Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny and U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara for spearheading the on-again, off-again project.

"No two people have dedicated themselves to a public gathering place more than these two," said Richard C. Wesley, a judge on the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The courthouse's dedication will continue today with a series of events and exhibits at the downtown courthouse, including:

*A 10 a.m. lecture about Jackson by John Q. Barrett, a St. John's University Law School professor and an expert on Jackson.

*A video on the legacy of Senior U.S. District Judge John T. Curtin. The video will feature a discussion with Curtin of his most notable cases.

*An exhibit with portraits on the history of U.S. district judges in the Western District of New York.

*A video on the work of artist Robert Mangold, who designed the art glass installation at the courthouse.

People who want to conduct their own self-guided tours can do so from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Docents will be available to help.