C. Clyde Atkins

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C. Clyde Atkins
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
In office
June 28, 1966 – December 31, 1982
Nominated by Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by new seat
Succeeded by Lenore Carrero Nesbitt
Personal details
Born (1914-11-23)November 23, 1914
Died March 11, 1999(1999-03-11) (aged 84)
Spouse(s) Esther (Castillo) Atkins (died in March 2009)

Carl Clyde Atkins (November 23, 1914 – March 11, 1999) was an American lawyer and judge.

Early life[edit]

Born in Washington, D.C., Atkins graduated from the University of Florida where he was a member of Phi Kappa Tau. He received an LL.B. from the University of Florida College of Law in 1936. He was in private practice of law in Stuart, Florida from 1936 to 1941, then in Miami, Florida until 1966.

Federal judicial service[edit]

President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Atkins to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida on June 28, 1966, to a new seat created by 80 Stat. 75. Confirmed by the Senate on July 22, 1966, he received commission the same day. He served as chief judge, 1977–1982 and assumed senior status on December 31, 1982. He served as senior judge until his death.

In 1969, Atkins worked on ensuring the desegregation of Miami schools by appointing a special panel to ensure the plan was carried out.[1] In 1970, he ruled on a famous case involving the poet Alan Ginsberg after someone shut off Ginsberg's microphone during a public reading.[2] Atkins ruled that Ginsberg should be given another reading, free of charge.

Among the many important cases in a long and distinguished career, he issued landmark rulings protecting the constitutional rights of homeless people in Pottinger v. City of Miami, as well as major rulings in other cases involving the rights of Haitian and Cuban refugees.

Personal activities[edit]

He was an active leader of the Roman Catholic Church. In December 1961, at a meeting of the Biscayne College Board of Trustees held in his office at the Alfred I. duPont Building in Miami, Atkins was appointed resident agent of the College. In 1965, he was named a Knight of St. Gregory by Pope Paul VI.

In 1997, the C. Clyde Atkins Moot Court Series was endowed at the University of Miami School of Law in his honor.

He died of colon cancer in Miami on March 11, 1999. He was survived by his wife, Ester and daughter Julie A. Landrigan. Two children, Carla A. Schulte and Carl Clyde Atkins were previously deceased.

The Greater Miami Chapter of the Florida ACLU annually presents the C. Clyde Atkins Civil Liberties Award. St. Thomas University (formerly Biscayne College) houses "The Judge C. Clyde Atkins Papers". Portions of the collection, including his public speeches, are available digitally at http://library.stu.edu/atkins.


  1. ^ Pate v. Dade County School Board, 315 F.Supp. 1161 (S.D. Fla. 1969).
  2. ^ Ginsberg v. City of Miami, 307 F.Supp. 675 (S.D. Fla. 1970).

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
new seat
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
Succeeded by
Lenore Carrero Nesbitt