State Supreme Court Justice's Meeting With Scalia Scrutinized

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 12:00 am  

Courtney Goodson

Make of this what you will:

Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson attended the Jan. 7 oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court of a case out of Miller County over the legality of a class-action legal strategy used extensively by her husband, John Goodson.

What’s more, she had a meeting that day with one of the justices who will decide the question: Antonin Scalia.

A seat at the hearing and the meeting were arranged by retired Arkansas Justice Robert Brown, who had met Scalia previously and has asked his office for such assistance for others in the past.

“I just thought it would be great for her to be at the oral arguments and for him to say hello,” Brown told Whispers last week. “My pitch to him was, ‘This was a state supreme court justice; say hello to her.’ That’s what I told his assistant.”

Brown said he disclosed Justice Goodson’s specific interest in the case being heard that day, Standard Fire Insurance v. Knowles.

Although she told numerous people about her meeting with Scalia, Justice Goodson did not respond to our request for comments for almost two weeks. Then she responded only through emails sent by Arkansas Supreme Court spokeswoman Stephanie Harris.

“Shortly after oral argument, Justice Scalia and Justice Goodson exchanged pleasantries,” Harris wrote. “Justice Scalia was made aware of Justice Goodson’s husband’s involvement in the case before he extended the courtesy to her. They never spoke about the case.”

Courtesy is also the word a spokeswoman for the U.S. Supreme Court used.

“Justice Scalia briefly greeted Justice Goodson, whom he did not know, at the request of one of her colleagues on the Arkansas Supreme Court. The extending of such a courtesy is not at all uncommon,” Kathy Arberg, public information officer for the U.S. Supreme Court, said in an email.

But how common is it for a U.S. Supreme Court justice to agree to a courtesy meeting with a state Supreme Court justice on the very day that the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments on a case that concerns the state justice’s husband’s very lucrative (and controversial) law practice? Whispers can’t answer that question.




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