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Away From Home

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Judge Dave and the Rainbow People

OK, I confess: I didn't completely do nothing today. I read a book: Judge Dave and the Rainbow People, by Dave Sentelle.

It was really quite good. It's the story of a gathering of 20,000 hippies (the Rainbow People), the state of North Carolina wanting to block the gathering under a health and safety law, and the judge who decided the case. The book is a first-person account, written by the judge himself. (Side note: Judge Sentelle is now on the DC Circuit, and was one of the judges who decided the broadcast flag case this week.) It's a very interesting read, particularly the two occasions where the judge went and explored the hippie gathering himself (and yes, he did describe it as a "hippie gathering").

From the prologue:

All of my career, not only as a judge but as a lawyer and law student, I've fretted about the extended power of the judge who takes over and operates a prison, school system, or housing authority. That's why it becomes especially ironic that I am, so far as I know, the only federal judge who took over and operated a hippie reunion.


Really a great read, not only because it's a look inside hippie subculture, but especially because it looks at things from the perspective of a judge, with all of the insight and behind-the-scenes access that such a first-person account necessarily provides. Plus he doesn't write like a lawyer, he writes conversationally, and takes the time to explain legal terms like "subject matter jurisdiction" and "pro se litigant."

Four out of five stars.

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