Friday, April 10, 2015

Book Review: Have Gavel Will Travel by Robert Braithwaite

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Have Gavel Will Travel by Robert Braithwaite
2015, 123p, Non-Fiction
My Rating=4 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the publisher for an honest review

With 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.

I've worked for attorneys for many years now so I was interested to read a book from the perspective of a judge. I liked his writing style--I felt like I had just met him and he was telling me stories. He also doesn't have any airs about who he is and what he does. He lets us in on his secret to keeping an orderly courtroom, his rookie jitters when he was first starting out, how the real courtroom is nothing like Perry Mason episodes, and much more! 

I laughed at his first story about Lake Powell and what happens when the husband who's been pulling the trailer with the boat all the way from California suddenly jumps out to guide his (surprised) wife as she attempts to back it into the water. I've been to Lake Powell and was happy to not have to do that at all. He also tells stories about things that happened in the national parks and how to make juries happy. I've only been required to appear for jury service once in my life and it wasn't bad at all. After sizing up the jury pool, the defendant decided a plea was in his best interest so I was done much earlier than I thought I would be. And I thought the judge was very nice. :)

At the end, there's a section titled, "Bonus Material: Real-World Descriptions of Legal Terms." He simplifies the jargon attorneys and judges use in the courtroom and shares more stories. All of the stories he tells are short and there are some that I wish had more detail. He's down-to-earth with a great sense of humor. The only content of note would be a few mild swear words. Overall, this is a fun, entertaining read!

About the author:

Robert Braithwaite currently resides in Cedar City, Utah. He attended Southern Utah University and the University of Utah, graduating in 1973 with a B. S. in Political Science in 1973. He graduated from the University of Utah School of Law with a Juris Doctor degree in 1976. As an attorney he maintained a private practice and served as City Attorney for Cedar City, Parowan and Springdale. He also served for eight years as a member of the Utah Air Conservation Committee, the statutorily-established body regulating pollution emissions in the state.

In a twenty-seven year career as a judge, Robert Braithwaite has been a circuit judge, a district judge, a juvenile judge, a pro tem Utah Supreme Court judge and is now a U. S. magistrate judge. While a state judge, he served on the Utah Judicial Council, the governing board of the Utah state judiciary, and served as chairman of its Policy and Planning subcommittee. As a part-time magistrate judge he now hears criminal cases arising in the southern half of Utah, usually occurring in National Parks and Monuments, National Forests, and federal lands. Needless to say, he rides a circuit, hearing cases in four diverse locations at St. George, Big Water, Moab, and Salt Lake City.

His wife is an artist and art professor. Together they have raised four children.


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