The Company You Keep


The Company You Keep

A reader complained recently that Arkansas Business usually identifies John Goodson, the Texarkana lawyer recently sanctioned by a federal judge, as the husband of Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson, asking why we keep mentioning her when she “hasn’t done anything wrong here.” The reader called it “tacky.”

Here’s why we like to fully identify John Goodson: Not only is he married to one of the most powerful jurists in Arkansas, he is a member of the University of Arkansas board of trustees, a fact we also usually include. He is a powerful man who, as a UA trustee, is held up as a role model. He is a powerful man made even more powerful by his status as spouse of a Supreme Court justice.

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John Goodson is also a lawyer who, at least according to U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes III, not only put his self-interest ahead of his clients’ interests, one of the worst things a lawyer can do, but abused the court system itself in a controversial class-action case — facts uncovered by Arkansas Business.

For her part, Courtney Goodson, along with other state justices, has benefited hugely from campaign donations made by her husband and his wealthy lawyer friends. They, in turn (it’s funny how this works), have benefited from favorable rulings from the court — facts uncovered by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

It’s incredibly naïve to think that this particular “power couple” should always be considered as separate entities.

In fact, these cozy relationships are among the factors leading the Arkansas Bar Association to recommend that state Supreme Court justices should be appointed rather than elected, though voters themselves took the initiative and declined to elect Courtney Goodson chief justice.

And now, it’s time for John Goodson to resign as a UA trustee. We are known by the company we keep — and the people we empower.