From stories of illegal poaching in a Utah national park and BASE jumpers willing to risk it all, to tales of murder, rape and domestic violence, Robert Braithwaite shares experiences and insights about some of the cases he's presided over in his nearly three decades of experience as a judge in "Have Gavel, Will Travel: A National Park Judge Reflects on Truth, Justice and Why Every Juror Deserves a Doughnut."
"Have Gavel, Will Travel" is compilation of brief stories that show the breadth of Braithwaite's experience as a judge in Utah, including as a circuit judge, a district judge, a juvenile judge, a pro tem Utah Supreme Court judge and now as a U.S. magistrate judge with jurisdiction in southern Utah — with criminal cases that usually occured in national parks and forests or other federal lands, such as the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, including Lake Powell.
The stories are freely told and not confined to a chronological ordering or area of the law. Braithwaite writes about a murder case and then moves to a bear poaching case a few paragraphs later. Some stories are told quickly, such as the one about the naked campers. Other tales and descriptions of the terrain and landscape may have readers asking the judge to get to his decision, or holding, already. When those elements combine, the book is just right.
Throughout the book, Braithwaite shares personal stories of his family and life as a grandfather, but the majority of tales shared in this book are from the courtroom.
A legal education is not necessary for enjoying "Have Gavel, Will Travel" because an entire chapter is dedicated to those unfamiliar with the practice of law and to those who may not cheer when they get a jury duty notice. However, a general understanding of the law may add a greater level of appreciation for Braithwaite's brevity and wit.
Intimately told from the Cedar City resident's perspective, "Have Gavel, Will Travel" has a few swear words that add extra emphasis to the stories. While many crimes and experiences — from threats against the president of the United States to wringing the neck of a duck at Lake Powell — are discussed throughout, there are no excessive descriptions of sex or violence.
If you go ...
What: Robert Braithwaite book signing with daughter Ally Condie
When: Saturday, Feb. 14, noon-2:30 p.m.
Where: Main Street Books (Braun Books), 25 N. Main, Cedar City
Alicia Cunningham is a graduate of Brigham Young University and George Mason School of Law and is a contract writer for entities throughout Utah. She shares book recommendations at facebook.com/alwayslookingforagoodbook.