Shelby County Environmental Court
General Sessions, Division 14

Judge Larry Potter currently serves as the Environmental Court Judge of Shelby County Tennessee, General Sessions Division 14. He has been a judge for over 30 years and established the third Environmental Court in the United States of America. During that time he developed many of the innovations for this specialty court that are now considered standard procedure. For this reason, he is widely known as the “Father of Environmental Courts in America."

Judge Potter co-wrote the law that created the Environmental Court in the State of Tennessee, and either wrote or co-wrote many of the laws that dramatically improved the effectiveness of the court and the outcomes for citizens. These include both commercial and residential Anti-Neglect laws, the State of Tennessee Criminal Littering law, the Anti-Graffiti Law, and the Neighborhood Preservation Act. He wrote the law allowing Memphis Police Officers to cite cases to Environmental Court, and then wrote and facilitated training on this process. Among his innovations are on-site inspections, environmental community courts (currently four with more in process), the use of citizen review panels, and the use of code enforcement “E-teams”.

Word about the court’s effectiveness spread and Judge Potter has been a tireless advocate for supporting the growth and development of Environmental Courts. For the past 30 years he has traveled throughout the United States consulting, pro bono, with governmental authorities on establishing Environmental Courts in their communities. 

Judge Potter’s work has been respected and honored by his peers locally, statewide and nationally. He received the Memphis Rotary Club’s distinguished Bobby Dunavant Public Servant Award, and in 2009 the Tennessee Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Program recognized his efforts with the prestigious Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2006 the Keep America Beautiful National Federation honored Judge Potter with the highly prestigious Iron Eyes Cody Lifetime Achievement Award, and they honored him again in 2013 with their Leadership Award in Law Enforcement. 

Judge Potter is a native of Milan, Tennessee. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee, his master’s degree from Austin Peay University, and his juris doctorate from the University of Memphis Law School. He has been married to Patti Kissel Potter for 18 years and is the father of three adult children and three grandchildren. He currently resides in Cordova, Tennessee.


  • In 2006, Judge Potter received the highly prestigious Iron Eyes Cody Award from the Keep American Beautiful National Federation

  • In 2007 he was awarded the Memphis Rotary Club’s Bobby Dunavant Public Servant Award

  • The 2009 Tennessee Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards recognized his efforts to enhance our environment and natural resources by honoring him with the prestigious Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Judge Potter received the 2013 Law Enforcement Recognition Award from Keep America Beautiful


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