Justice Approximated

Dispatches from the Bottom Rung of the Judicial Ladder

L. Phillips Runyon, III

220 pp., 6 x 9″, Paperback


May 2017


Grove Street Books




Twenty-seven years on the bench in small-town New Hampshire

Judge L. Phillips Runyon, III, gives us a collection of essays that bring to life, with candor and eloquence, a small-town New Hampshire courtroom where important decisions are made.


From Steve Sherman’s review in The Keene Sentinel: “A View from Behind the Bench”

Beneath the light-hearted banter, Runyon admits to the warm and fuzzy feelings of doing some good with his life.

He also views himself as a hard-liner on law and order, “but I don’t cut the prosecutors any slack when it comes to having their ducks lined up to meet their burdens of proof.”

But when he finally sends people to jail, “which is relatively rare, I think nearly all the budding incarcerants would agree they’ve finally run out the string and now fully deserve their institutional quiet time.”

At the same time, he tries to rule gently against an attorney or prosecutor because, he writes, “people hate losing face more than losing to the Yankees in Boston.”

Sometimes cases in the court run the coarse course. “A young guy came in trying to evict an older woman from an apartment in his house,” Runyon recalls. “While it seemed a little harsh to be pushing for this with two weeks left before Christmas, it turned into Greek tragedy when I realized about 10 minutes into the testimony that the tenant was the landlord’s own mother.”

To read the full review


L. PHILLIPS RUNYON, III, has practiced law in Peterborough, NH, for over 40 years, currently as the principal of Runyon Law Office, PLLC. In 1990, Governor Judd Gregg appointed him presiding justice of the Jaffrey-Peterborough District Court, now the 8th Circuit, District Division, Jaffrey. He has also been an adjunct faculty member in the MBA program at Franklin Pierce University. Judge Runyon holds memberships in the American and New Hampshire Bar Associations and has argued before the United States Supreme Court.