November 26, 2017 - 9:04 pm
Cal Johnson Potter III, a prominent Las Vegas civil rights, criminal defense and personal injury attorney credited with boosting the profile of the American Civil Liberties Union in Nevada, died Wednesday. He was 64.
His death came after a monthslong battle with grade 4 glioblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer, his family said.
Potter was known for taking on powerful entities, such as the Metropolitan Police Department, since he started practicing law in Las Vegas in 1979.
“Cal was a fierce warrior who was willing to take on cases that other lawyers would have shied away from,” said Gary Peck, former executive director of the ACLU of Nevada. “He played a significant role in the effort to rebuild the ACLU of Nevada into an effective advocate defending civil liberties and civil rights in our state.”
Allen Lichtenstein, a former ACLU general counsel who worked alongside Potter on several cases, said Potter was well-respected for his professionalism and willingness to fight for those who couldn’t fight for themselves.
“I think it’s a big loss because you do not get that many Cal Potters around who are willing to take on the powers that be,” Lichtenstein said.
Potter worked with his son, C.J. Potter, at his Las Vegas law office, where he took on a variety of cases, from medical malpractice to drug crimes, according to the firm’s website.
His son said it was his goal since childhood to work alongside his father.
“I enjoyed being able to walk down the hall, and if I asked him a question, he knew the answer.”
Potter, who had a penchant for wearing boots and turquoise, was proud to serve as a judge for the Paiute Tribe for the past several years, his son said.
C.J. said his father was known for his honesty and high ethical standards.
“He’s been a mentor to countless attorneys in Vegas,” he said.
One of those attorneys was Louis Schneider, who knew Potter for more than 13 years and considered him a close friend. The two regularly collaborated, and Potter also represented Schneider in a lawsuit against another attorney.
“Cal took cases not because they were winners, but because it was the right thing to do,” Schneider said. “I’ll miss Cal every day, because whenever I had complicated legal issues, he was the first person I would call. Cal was my go-to guy.”
A native of Phoenix, Potter attended the University of Arizona, where he received both his undergraduate and law degrees. He married his wife, Linda Dwyer Potter, in 1981.
Potter was a past president of the Nevada Justice Association when it was known as the Nevada Trial Lawyers Association and was also founding president of the Nevada Attorneys for Criminal Justice. He also worked with the Nevada Homeless Alliance and sponsored the Helldorado Art Show for more than 20 years, his family said.
But when his daughter Bethany Potter Evans asked him recently what he was most proud of, he said it was his family and helping people.
Potter liked to hike at Mount Charleston and was an avid reader and dog lover who adopted basset hounds, his wife said. He was also a rose gardener who planted and looked after more than 100 rosebushes.
“He was the most honorable person I’ve ever met,” she said. “It was a life well-lived.”
Potter is survived by his wife, Linda; his son, C.J. Potter; daughters Allison Potter and Bethany Potter Evans; his father, Jack Potter; and his sister, Becky Potter.