Why Judges Wear Robes at New Dominion February 24

Coming to New Dominion Bookshop:

Retired Campbell County Circuit Judge J. Samuel Johnston will present selections from his humorous memoir

Why Judges Wear Robes

Wednesday, February 24 at 12:15 PM

Charlottesville attorney Ed Lowry will introduce Judge Johnston

From the book’s Introduction

… I was appointed judge of the 24th judicial district on October 14, 1977, at the age of thirty. I was the youngest judge in Virginia at the time and I was humbled, honored, and proud.

I was prepared for the legal aspects and requirements of being a judge, but I was not prepared for what I was going to hear, see, and experience as the parade of “my fellow travelers to the tomb” came before me as litigants, witnesses, and jurors and related the situations in which they found themselves.

The almost unbelievable parade of human frailty, tragedy, and problems began immediately—along with the mirth—and I was charged to employ the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon, and the practical common sense of Dear Abby to unravel and solve these problems, of course, always governed by the rule of law.

While I could not deny or avoid the serious nature of most matters that came before me, it became readily apparent that no matter what I had thought this job entailed, there was an element of levity that permeated many cases. That became evident most every day that I held court. It took a great deal of restraint to control my facial expressions as well as my outright laughter at some of the outrageous events that occurred in the courtroom. For the most part I succeeded, but there were several occasions when I succumbed to hilarious situations I faced.…


“Sam Johnston is a stone-solid great jurist, a top-notch writer and a storyteller of the first rank. His Why Judges Wear Robes is one fine book, a perfect mix of wisdom, humor, insight, and entertainment. If I could steal it and put my name on it, I absolutely would.”

—Martin Clark, Circuit Court Judge in Martinsville, Virginia, and author of The Legal Limit and The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living

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