U.S. District Judge Robert Potter
{ "" }
Share Robert's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Robert Potter, who for nearly two decades ran one of the nation's toughest courtrooms, died today. He was 86. Potter's lengthy sentences and stern lectures earned him a nickname he disliked: “Maximum Bob.” Despite his tough reputation, friends and colleagues described Potter as kind-hearted, humble and modest – a man of character and integrity who believed in the conservative cause and good government. “To say he was a giant seems inadequate,” U.S. District Judge Bob Conrad said. “In the dictionary, next to the words ‘integrity' and ‘courage,' there should be a picture of Judge Potter. “Even in retirement, there was a sense of his lingering presence in the courthouse. Courtroom #2 where I preside is known by everyone as Judge Potter's courtroom. That will never change.” Charlotte lawyer Lyle Yurko said: “Judge Potter was a legal giant….It's a great loss. He had a full and productive life. I know he was a deeply religious man. And I know he will rest in peace.” Among Potter's most celebrated cases: the 1989 sentencing of PTL evangelist Jim Bakker, who bilked millions from followers of his TV ministry, and a controversial 1999 ruling that ended Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools' race-based school assignment and cross-town busing for desegregation. In a 2000 interview with the Observer, the white-haired, soft-spoken judge talked about his sentencing philosophy, his reputation and what he had hoped to accomplish on the bench. “I'm here to do a job,” Potter said. “I'm not here to win a popularity contest. “The only deterrent we have against some people who commit crimes is punishment that is meaningful to them. The only one I know is prison.”
Published in Charlotte Observer from Jul. 2 to Jul. 7, 2009.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
22 entries
July 3, 2011
Remembering you all this weekend and missing you always! Judge Potter was the greatest influence in my adult life! I was very blessed to be a part of your family and I thank you for that!
Loretta Carswell
July 30, 2009
To the family of Judge Robert Potter,

I offer my sympathy,prayers and love. Judge Potter was such a nice man. He was kind and funny. I feel so blessed to have known him. May God bless this family with comfort in knowing that he is now resting.

Thelma Redmond
Thelma Redmond
July 9, 2009
To the Potter Family,
Judge Potter was one of the finest men I have had the honor to know.
You have my deepest sympathy.
Jane Scott
Jane Scott
July 8, 2009
Mary & Phil-
Please accept our condolences in the loss of Mary's father. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
-Patsy Brison & Scott Camp
Asheville, N.C.
July 8, 2009
To the Potter Family,

Having had the pleasure of knowing and working with Mary and Ann, seeing Judge Potter and his family at Green's on Saturday mornings, and being a part of the legal community in Charlotte, I know the Nation has lost a committed servant of justice. May God bless your family and guide you through these times.
Philip Penn
July 7, 2009
To Mary & Phil Summa,
I'm so sorry to hear of Judge Potter's death. No matter what a parent's age or condition, and irrespective of the knowledge that death is inevitable, such loss is never easy and always difficult to bear. Thank God you have all your wonderful memories to cherish and share. I encourage you to share them often.
John Logan
Campbell Law Class of '84
Chapter 13 Trustee, Raleigh
July 7, 2009
My prayers is for all the family to know the love and joy Judge Potter found in the lives of his and Kathleen's families. Having known him for more than 40 years, I know his heart was always open to kindness. I will always remember his dry wit and our enjoyable times of discussing "politics". May God rest his soul. My love to Mary, Bob, Anne and especially Kathleen. Phil and Bob completed a near perfect family. I'm sure the grandchildren will learn of the foundation they will be privledged to know as they age.
Margaret Almond
July 6, 2009
To the Potters, Summas, and Gleasons:
Your family has had a powerful positive impact on my family. People that fight the good fight are the ones that can truly "give a reason for the hope that is within...." I am grateful for the role your family has played in our lives and the life of our community. Mrs. Potter, thank you for your faithful service to the Perpetual Adoration Chapel at St. Gabe's. May the peace that surpasses all understanding be with you as you walk this difficult path. Much love.
Cindy Woodlief
July 6, 2009
It has been a blessing to know Judge Potter and all of his family. They are in my prayers, at this time of sorrow. May he rest in peace with his Lord.
Helen Fountain
July 6, 2009

July 6, 2009
I am so grateful that I have known Bob and Kathleen Potter. Thank you for sharing your lives with me.
Kay Weaver
July 6, 2009
Bob Potter and I knew each other at
Duke and again when practicing law in
Charlotte, 1951-53, before I was called
to active military duty. Though many
years have passed, I remember his great
love for Kathleen, and I remember him
with respect and affection.
Bob Clement
July 6, 2009
My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.
Rosa Chavarria
July 5, 2009
When a person achieves a certain position in life they place the title "Honorable" before their name. No one deserved that title more than Judge Potter. To enter his courtroom was to enter a place where the law mattered; where the role of the court was kept in proper perspective; and, where the wearing of a judicial robe signified a recognition that he was a servant of the law and of the citizens of this country. One of my favorite memories of Judge Potter was seeing him sitting in his courtroom, on a Saturday, reading court papers and case law while wearing a coat and tie. Even on his own time he showed an unwavering respect for the position he held. He truly earned the title "Honorable" and I was honored to prosecute cases in his courtroom for more than 11 years.
Bobby Higdon
July 4, 2009
My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.
July 4, 2009
Dear Mrs. Potter,
You now have one more advocate in Heaven. Your marriage, faith and family are a blessing to all who know and love you.

In the Peace of Christ,

Dana and Leah Bean
Dana Bean
July 4, 2009
Judge Potter did my 1st. house closing at Mercy Hsopital while his brother Dr. E.L. had delived my child. We shared times as we met in the oldmeck. court house while he served. Later as a law enforcement ofice, I went befrore him several times and he always had good words...What a Man!.I injured my leg and will not be able to attend any services, but Iwill be there in my prayers. God Bless the Family.
Pete Toomey
July 3, 2009
To the Potter Family,

As a law enforcement officer, it was a true honor to have appeared before Judge Potter. He was a man of great purpose and integrity. If "Justice" came disguised as a man he would be Robert Potter.
David Ramsey
July 3, 2009
To the Potter Family,
I had the pleasure of fixing breakfast at the Courtyard Southpark in the early 1990's. It was fun having the Judge come in for breakfast and had many interesting conversations with him and Ms. Potter and his family whenever they came.
He was a Great Law and Order Judge.
My condolences to the Family of Judge Potter.
Paul Hammond
July 3, 2009
Dear Mrs. Potter and Family,
I was deeply sadden to hear of Judge Potters passing. He was a Giant among Men in his convictions and integrity. He will be deeply missed by many.
We will keep you all in our prayers during this time of loss but we know that your faith will give you strength.
Very sincerely yours,
Shirley Smith (Former owner of Travel Creations - Pineville, NC)
Shirley Smith
July 2, 2009
My prayers remain with you all.
Stacie Tonucci
July 2, 2009
To the Potter Family, I wish to express my condolences in the loss of a husband, father, and grandfather. As a retired federal agent, I had the opportunity to observe Judge Potter over many years. He dispensed judge in a fair and equitable fashion without regard to race, gender or financial standing. I have on many occasions seen him the maximum sentence proscribed by law but I have also seen him reduce potential sentences and give defendants a second chance. He was what you think of when you think what a federal judge should be. I am sure that he is in a much better place.
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences