Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Have Gavel, Will Travel - Robert Braithwaite

SummaryWith a jurisdiction covering southern Utah’s national parks and wide-open wilderness areas, you might think Judge Robert Braithwaite’s only cases were between crickets and tumbleweeds. 

Not even close.

Over a twenty-seven year judicial career, he’s seen everything: bighorn sheep poachers in ultralight planes, canoodling nudes, duck killers—and each case got weirder the more he learned. Join Judge Braithwaite as he recollects these stranger-than-fiction stories and takes you inside the real legal process.

Poignant, quirky, and full of life, this book includes cases that were decided in state-of-the-art courtrooms, a Quonset hut in Big Water, and—when occasion called for it—in the judge’s front yard. Entertaining and eye-opening, this is one book you’ll have to read to believe.
 (Summary and image from   I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.)

Review:  Robert Braithwaite is the successful, soft spoken, uncle at family reunions you're dying to sit next to because his stories are the best.  His recounting of some of his youthful adventures in the areas he now sits as a magistrate had me in stitches.  His trials are revisited with tact, clarity, honesty, and the right amount of discretion.  Some trials Braithwaite relates are hard to read, I admit, but he handles it with a grace that speaks to his education.  Others are just so funny, I couldn't help but recommend it to my attorney friends.

Braithwaite has a way with words, but he also has a serious respect for the land, the law, and our role in protecting and observing both.  I joke with my husband that there are very few issues in which I can tout myself as a liberal, but land conservation is one of them. I think it's an inherent Utah matter.  Living that close to the most beautiful part of nature just rewrites your heart somehow.  I was reminded of that as I read his book, not only of the role we all play in the preservation of our national parks, but of the Utah-ness of some of those feelings.  There just aren't adequate words to explain what I'm trying to convey, just go read the book.  You'll get it.

It came as no surprise to me when in the appendix (because every former attorney has to include an appendix), Justice Braithwaite revealed that his daughter is Ally Condie of Matched and other books.  Writing clearly runs in the family, and it made me appreciate his book even more. 

Rating: Four stars -- I wish it were longer

For the Sensitive Reader:  Some discussion of the growing problem of drug traffickers in the National Parks, a murder trial, and a date rape trial.

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