James Oran “Jimmy” Porter 1941-2016
“The epitome of a gentleman lawyer”
Las Vegas was saddened by the recent passing of attorney James Oran “Jimmy” Porter, who passed away on Jan. 27.
Licensed to practice law in Nevada and Washington D.C., Porter was an experienced trial lawyer in both the criminal and civil arenas. He achieved several multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients in the civil arena. Porter married Marquentta Tinsley soon after he moved to Las Vegas in 1972, and continued his legal career at the Office of the Clark County Public Defender. At that time, he was only the second African-American attorney in the State of Nevada.
Porter was a major force for change in the Las Vegas community. He was the force behind what is now known as the Urban Chamber of Commerce — as co-founder and past president, he brought vision and focus to the organization’s work to develop its members and serve black-owned businesses.
For decades, Porter had strong ties to the White House. President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him to the Kerner Commission, to investigate causes of the 1967 race riots and provide recommendations for future preventative measures. In 1980, he was recognized by President Ronald Reagan with an invitation to attend his inauguration. At the state level, Porter was appointed to the Nevada Taxicab Authority by Governors Richard Bryan and Bob Miller, and he is featured in scholarly works at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
As a co-founder and longtime member of the Las Vegas chapter of the National Bar Association, Porter was admitted into the organization’s Hall of Fame in recognition of his 40 years of service in the practice of law, his support for the African-American community, and his pursuit of justice through civil rights.
“We’re fighting for community. We’re fighting for diversity. We’re fighting for opportunity,” Porter once said. “How better to demonstrate the importance of this aim than to give 100 percent?”
Porter “was the epitome of a gentleman lawyer, but he was as tough as anyone in court if necessary,” said Las Vegas attorney John Bailey. “He was a staunch defender of civil rights and firmly believed in justice for all. He — and his legal abilities — will be missed.”
Porter is survived by his mother, Alma Sherman of Washington D.C.; daughter Laronda Tinsley-Taylor (wife of renowned jazz artist Paul Taylor); sons James Oran Porter II and Marwan E. Porter; grandson Dahveed Porter; brothers Clifton and Ronald Porter; and a host of other family and friends.