Ex-state Supreme Court justice Batjer dies at 91

Former Nevada Supreme Court Justice Cameron McVicar Batjer, whose legal career carried him from Carson City to Washington, D.C., died Wednesday at 91.

"Cam was a native Nevadan who possessed classic Nevada values — such as self-reliance, perseverance and compassion — in rare abundance. I considered it an honor to call him my friend," former U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt said in a statement.

"A uniquely talented attorney, Cam was always understated and courteous; but he was also a fiercely competitive advocate, and he never entered a courtroom less prepared than his opposition."

Batjer, born in 1919 in Smith to a ranching family, attended Lyon County schools and graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno, in 1941.

After serving in the Navy during World War II, he returned to Nevada to teach school in Dayton, Carson City and other areas while saving money for law school.

After his 1950 graduation from the University of Utah law school, Batjer served as a staff lawyer in the Utah state Senate and later as legal adviser to U.S. Sen. George "Molly" Malone of Nevada in 1952 and 1953. A year later, Batjer succeeded Laxalt as the district attorney in Ormsby County, now called Carson City.

Batjer also served as Ormsby County’s Republican Party chairman and twice ran unsuccessfully for state attorney general before being appointed to Nevada’s highest court in 1967 by then-Gov. Laxalt. Batjer was appointed with John Mowbray to fill seats created by the court’s expansion from three to five members.

Batjer’s 14-year term ended in 1981 when he retired amid bickering and infighting among his fellow justices.

"It’s like walking a tightrope 1,000 feet up sometimes," he said at the time.

With the help of his longtime friend Laxalt, then a U.S. senator, Batjer was appointed chairman of the U.S. Parole Commission under the new Reagan administration. He served on the commission until 1990, when he retired to Reno.

"The evenhanded temperament of Justice Cameron Batjer will be missed in today’s partisan world," Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Douglas said in a statement.

Batjer is survived by three daughters and a son-in-law: Lura Batjer Caldwell, Charles S. Caldwell and Christina Batjer, all of Reno, and Marybel Batjer of Las Vegas.

Marybel Batjer served as chief of staff to Gov. Kenny Guinn from 2000 to 2003 and as Cabinet secretary and chief policy adviser to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Funeral services in Reno were pending.

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