In Debt and Under Fire, Attorney Grant Goodman Has Found an Unusual Pool of Clients: the "Victims" of Probate Court

Just about everybody who came into contact with Edward Ravenscroft in 2008 concluded that he needed some serious help.

Thanks to a bad crack habit, Ravenscroft, then 47, had burned through more than $1 million in two short years — with little to show for it. As an heir to the Abbott Laboratories fortune, Ravenscroft was rich, but he was spending his money way too quickly, and stupidly. Even as his Scottsdale home was falling into foreclosure, he gave away $160,000 on a whim.

As is often the case with drug addicts, Ravenscroft started behaving erratically, leading to arrests for three different drug-related felonies in the span of one month. While on probation, he was arrested in California and charged with attempted sexual assault, battery, and domestic violence. Shipped back to the Maricopa County Jail, he was looking at prison time.

In court papers, Ravenscroft admitted that, in addition to his drug problem, he was mentally ill. His defense lawyer wrote that Ravenscroft described himself as bipolar and obsessive-compulsive. Three different doctors agreed. So did the court-appointed psychiatrist who examined him in jail.

That diagnosis may have made all the difference. Under a program launched by the county's presiding judge, criminal defendants with mental illness end up in a special court to assess their competency, and then, if need be, referred to probate court for help. Probate court deals with people who are legally incapacitated: anyone who can't take care of themselves or manage their finances because of mental illness, old age, or disability.

Sent to probate in January 2009, Ravenscroft was assigned a guardian ad litem to fight for his best interests, even if Ravenscroft had no idea what they were. (In this case, that entailed helping Ravenscroft get well enough to check into rehab.) As Ravenscroft's case progressed and he continued to spiral out of control, he also got a guardian (to take care of him), a conservator (to watch over his money), and a lawyer (to express his desires in court).

And then, slowly, Edward Ravenscroft got better.

It took a while: He cycled in and out of four rehab facilities. From March to September 2009, he overdosed four times.

Today, he's been sober eight months. He takes his medication and is preparing to live on his own. He'd been in probate for a little over a year when Probate Court Judge Karen O'Connor terminated his guardianship last month. He is, she said, capable of taking care of himself.

Sounds like a happy ending, right?

Not if you're Grant Goodman. The Phoenix-based attorney is convinced that the whole thing was a scam to steal Ravenscroft's money.

Goodman was inspired by the Arizona Republic's Laurie Roberts, who decided to take on the probate system after reporting about one spectacularly expensive probate case. Roberts' columns have drawn such outrage that Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca Berch commissioned an appellate court judge to investigate the system.

Goodman filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family Roberts has been writing about. But he didn't stop there: He's also filed racketeering lawsuits on behalf of two other people found in probate court to be incapacitated.

All three lawsuits accuse his clients' court-appointed guardians, conservators, and lawyers of acting as a "syndicate" to defraud them of their assets.

Those people may have helped Edward Ravenscroft get off drugs, get into rehab, even stay alive after (several) overdoses. But Goodman says they're the bad guys.

He's the good guy. "Who's going to protect these people, other than lawyers like me?" he asks.

The Republic's Roberts apparently agrees. She devoted an entire column to Goodman's crusade, painting him as a savior.

But a growing number of probate court observers worry that Grant Goodman is less a white knight than a shark who smells blood in the water — and that he intends to use Maricopa County's most vulnerable for both good publicity and a fat payday.


Grant Goodman does not believe that Edward Ravenscroft was ever truly mentally ill. He calls his client's court-appointed psychiatrist — the well-respected Jack Potts — a "hack."

"How many people do you know who are on some form of Xanax, Lexapro — any mood stabilizer?" he asks. "Everybody I know has a personality defect. That doesn't mean they're incapacitated and need protection."

Suffice it to say, that kind of opinion is music to the ears of the people declared incapacitated in probate court, many of whom are convinced they don't need help despite all signs to the contrary. Even Ravenscroft, who once admitted that he had serious issues, began to chafe under the court's restrictions soon after getting sober: Why couldn't he just buy what he wanted to buy? Why were these lawyers telling him what to do? Goodman's willingness to fight on his behalf surely vindicated his belief that he was being ripped off.

But if Goodman is a dream come true for the people declared incapacitated in probate court, it's hard to imagine a worse nightmare for the lawyers and judges who handle their cases. Goodman's crusade has been his first introduction to probate court — and he's landed in its polite halls like a Scud missile.

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25 comments
Truth2013
Truth2013

I have known Edward for a year and it has been the year from HELL!! He has an extensive criminal history, including drug, sexual assault, domestic violence, false imprisonment, assault and who knows what other felonies. He has been in and out of jails and psychiatric institutions. He is a menace to society. He is a Narcissus, has severe OCD and Bipolar, is a Sociopath, and a Pathological Liar.

He is truly sexually inappropriate in every sense of the word. Women BEWARE!!! He has extensive felony records in both Arizona and California. He is not the victim here so don't feel sorry for him. He manipulates every situation to benefit him.

Truth out there
Truth out there

You are correct about Edward Ravenscroft. I have known him for 30 years. He has always done a lot of drugs, been violent and been sexually innapropriate. He has been "well known" by the paradise valley police department and had numerous legal issues relating to drugs. Most of the issues were reduced due to plea agreements. He is very manipulative and uses religion to "pretend" he is sober or has changed his ways. Ultimately he will relapse and be back in jail, again same pattern he has repeated for 30 years. I am utterly shocked that a story was written about him yet did not find all these known facts. This is a prime example of how journalism picks and chooses what facts to include to shape the outcome the strory being reported. I am grateful you corrected Roberts and reported the truth about Ravenscroft.

Robert Gettinger
Robert Gettinger

We don't know who the good or bad are anymore. The problem is the corrupt have friends in high places, they have the money and means to lie and cheat their way to the top. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories... is a real story about a real woman who was damaged for life by judges and lawyers. This is about helping those who are trying to fix the system. avivakbobb.com is about a judge (with documented proof) who murdered Lee Peters, she is dead today due to scumbag judges and lawyers who hide their crimes behind legal doors. At least real criminals do it out on the streets, these dirt bags use their government and tax payer positions to steal from tax payers. This needs to stop, don't believe every post you read, go to the links, do the research and find out for yourself that our courts have many corrupt judges and lawyers. All supported by the police, sheriff and government. One day you might also be a victim. If you think judges are beyond crime see fulldisclosure.net and see the Richard Fine story. A lawyer who lost it all to make a point, he exposed the tip of the iceberg David P. Yaffee who was caught accepting bribes. Google his name and you're find stories on him that tell you what a moron he was, yet he was still a judge and ruling in a court. Join us at Facebook to find REAL victims, real accounts of the death and destruction by Judges and lawyers who steal, lie and cheat us all.

Indignant
Indignant

Grant Goodman is nothing but a crook. He steals people's money, doesn't think that that rules apply to him and just moves onto the next sucker who buys his baloney. More than 50 plus people have worked with this idiot in the past 8 months, and he treats his employees even worse than his clients. He owes my company tons of money for people we sent him as employees. He owes tens of thousands to ex employees and simply doesn't care. Hopefully the State Bar will finally do something about this very dishonorable crook.

WutWut
WutWut

wow! I just got an email to call about scheduling an interview, glad i read this article first!

Diggy99
Diggy99

I had the dishonor of working for Mr. Goodman for over 3 months, when all of a sudden my employment was "not needed" after one of his senior attorneys (whom I worked for left). What most people do not know is that more thant 2 dozen people worked through that office in the first 6 months it was open. Whether they quit or were fired by Mr. Goodman (according to him we were all incompetent Boobs, who didn't know our butts from a hole in the ground) Mr. Goodman does not pay his employees. I was owed for almost a weeks pay, and after begging etc. I still have not gotten it. I have personally met Edward Ravenscroft and Helga Mallet and both are wonderful people, I hope they find new counsel to support their causes. People beware of wolves in sheeps clothing, because of Mr. Goodman I am now unemployed and living on unemployment. What people also don't know is that Mr. Goodman expected his office personnel to work 7 days a week, and be accessible by phone to him 24/7 with no regard to our personal lives, health or privacy. The straw that broke this camels back was not being able to go to Dr's appointments. Lets just ask the question who the hell does he think he is?

Elaine Renoire
Elaine Renoire

NASGA is an organization of victims and families working to expose and end unlawful and abusive guardianships/conservatorships -- a growing national epidemic.

Guardianship wards are stripped of all rights: the right to decide where to live and whom to associate with, how to spend (or save) ones own money, to accept or refuse medical treatment --or even ask for a second opinion, marry, vote, etc. Most important, wards are stripped of the right to complain.

With the fox guarding the henhouse and the hens muzzled, guardians and their attorneys can easily unjustly enrich themselves at the expense and to the detriment of the very person they have been court-appointed to protect.

Many wards are forcibly taken from their homes and isolated in nursing facilities against their will - and family is not permitted to visit or have information or input regarding medical “care.” Wards die prematurely - alone and afraid. The devastation victims and families suffer at the hands of the system haunts them for the rest of their lives.

And where do the victims go for help? Many go to the AG, only to be turned away because the abuse has been court-sanctioned. Convicted felons have more rights than guardianship wards.

Visit NASGA at www.StopGuardianAbuse.org, www.AnOpenLettertoCongress.inf... or NASGA’s blog at http://NASGA-StopGuardianAbuse... for more information.

Yours,Elaine RenoireNASGA

Linda Billings
Linda Billings

Liars,cheaters,and thieves are all around .These people that work and have control in our goverment are the sharks.Its all about how much money thay can steal...Was DEALING WITH THIS SYSTEM LAST YEAR...Probate Court thay riped about 50.000 off my alhzimers Mother last year...and I am not wealthy to through Money into this Money Pitt.Beware of Williams,WestBy,Platt,White...Judges

Gary Klahr, J.D.
Gary Klahr, J.D.

to jbs---There are TWO separate issues here. On the SPECIFIC Q of Goodman and the estates NAMED by Roberts, it appears Sarah has the better/more complete story. BUT---I am not at all sure that Sarah is right about there being NO major problems in the Probate Ct. The Sup Ct would not have appointed Laurie's sister, judge Timmer, to investigate based on baseless rumors and allegations from someone like Goodman. The Republic's ace modernp-day Don Bolles---Robert Anglen---has investigated himself and supposedly will be writing about abuses there OTHER than the 3 cases Laurie covered.

So Sarah MAY come out looking foolish herself for giving the Probate court "gang" a clean bill of health.

jbs
jbs

I'm sorry, but Laurie, like it or not, messed up on this one, big time. Sarah, on the other hand, took her time, did the research, and then wrote. It is not that we don't like her, because we don't even know her. It is just a question of research. Had Laurie told the story properly, Sarah would have been left with little to tell. Unfortunately, Laurie left out so much of the story that Sarah was left with loads to tell. Laurie's reason for seeing so little is to me the interesting part of this story.

gary pETER kLAHR, j.d.
gary pETER kLAHR, j.d.

I like & trust Laurie Roberts---but also sarah fenske. it is like having to choose between which of your two kids to believe. The only one involved I know personally is larry scarangelli---and he was NOT a good associate when he worked for me 15 yrs ago--he-neglected and "blew" a number of cases and got me fined $2500 by a BK judge when HE went bankrupt. But i have not seen Larry in many years and maybe he has wisened up. i do NOT easily defame people, having been defamed so much myself--including by BOTH NT & Republic which at other times have been fair.

jesterjackson
jesterjackson

I've been saying over and over to anyone who will listen that the Arizona Republic sucks. That if you want to read the truth from journalists who are beholden to no one, read the New Times. If you want serious investigation instead of puff pieces, read the New Times. Just look at who was blowing the whistle on Aprio FIRST!!! Yup you got it, New Times!

Fred
Fred

Dave, you either are a fool, are one of the bad guys or are related to the bad people who cause all the unnecessary litigation. Not every Probate case has huge Attorney Fees and Cost. Most are minimal at best. This one case had huge fees because the person in need of protection had MAJOR problems. Thank God the Probate attorneys worked hard and got him the help he needed to clean up his act. If they didn't he would have either died or spent allllll his money.

ShabbaRanks
ShabbaRanks

Goodman challenging and questioning the integrity of the Theuts? You have to be kidding me. Everyone who knows the parties involved need to read no further. What a joke!

Marcy
Marcy

If you have money and are getting up in age spend some money while you are still in control of your faculties on getting an irrevocable trust set up to protect your assets from the various vultures that most certainly will be after your money eventually. And make sure you get a good trustee working for your best interests.

The vultures could include family, friends and lawyers in sharp looking $2500 suits driving Aston Martins.

Joey Bologna
Joey Bologna

Grant Goodman is a buck-toothed, bald a$$hole who deserves to get the sh*t kicked out of him. I hope he gets disbarred and has all his assets seized then he'll have to suck c@ck for a living just like he did in college.

JBS
JBS

Very nice to see real journalism after being disgusted by Laurie Roberts' blog which appears to be written by a scorned 13 year old girl just dumped by a boyfriend.

The best part of this story is in response to a guy who overdosed four times in six months and spent $1MM in two years to which Goodman responds: "Everybody I know has a personality defect. That doesn't mean they're incapacitated and need protection."

Your right Goodman... If my mother overdosed four times in six months I would just tap her on the back and say good luck. I certainly would not try and protect her from herself.

What planet is Goodman on? Jackass!

dave larkin
dave larkin

Sarah Fenske has just plain got this one wrong because she doesn't know what she is talking about. The FACTS: in estate after estate that is solvent and is being "administered" by the Probate Court and it's "collegial" crew of lawyers there are hundreds of thousands of dollars of the ward's money siphoned off to pay for unnecessary legal wrangling. The "collegial" atmosphere turned into a "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" when it came to approval of fee applications to be paid for from the ward's estate. Under the guise of "protecting" the purportedly incapacitated person, the ward actually winds up paying enormous fees to "protect" them, in Marie Long's case all the way to the poor house. Laurie Roberts has hit a nerve because she has exposed a legal sytem that has slumbered by rubber stamping these "collegial" fee deals while the incapacitated and seniors have been milked by the lawyers identified. As for the Theuts, more to come on how they obtained and run their county contracts to get assigned to these cases.

Lawyers in the Probate Court routinely look for potentially incapacitated persons with large estates so the can "beak into" the estate's assets, knowing that the Court officers will take a collective blind eye to the serious depletion of the ward's asstes. These practices have become so common as to be viewed as routine by many Probate lawyers.

Thank you Laurie Roberts for pulling back the curtain and watching the roaches scramble. Sarah Fenske, you really are sad because you just do not understand what has been going on--and what the Probate Judge and Commissioners have allowed to go on--for many years. The proof is in the files. Hopefully, the Supreme Court Committee will take a hard look at the administration of estates by the Probate Court, because it is not pretty at all.

BNM
BNM

Great article. I wish it came out before I wasted a week of my life working for this nut and/or charlatan. Fortunately, I found a real job in short order. I hope the other people I met there come to their senses soon and move on before he takes them down with him. And of course, he never paid me.

TommyC
TommyC

Another great report, Sarah. Thanks for your efforts! It appears Mr. Goodman has been lurking in the shadows and learning greatly from the antics of Mr. Thomas and the shurf. They all use the legal system to victimize others and to try to keep themselves out of trouble in the mean time. I guess the thought of Mr. Goodman just paying his judgments is just too plain for someone of his intellect to understand, huh? Again, like the shurf, Goodman is just trying to position himself as a martyr, when in fact it appears he is just a common criminal. The irony of all this is the apparent unwillingness of the Arizona Bar to actually take action against lawyers who have been found to have 'probable cause' for action, but the bar doesn't have the courage to do its job. Time, I guess, will tell the tale.

MM
MM

Undoubtably the most articulate and well written article I have seen in a long time. Thank you for reporting the truth, Ms. Fenske.

newtimesreader
newtimesreader

Arizona Republic = Sensationalism Journalism. Laurie Roberts, don't try to boost the careers of your sister and yourself by tearing down the reputations of others!! I've worked with the attorneys mentioned for years, and have never been so disgusted by these invalid claims.

truthseeker
truthseeker

Finally a true reporter actually does their job, and reports! I am so sick of the poor reporting on Laurie Roberts' part. Aren't journalists supposed to seek out reputable sources, not scam jobs and drug addicts? Goodman should lose his license, and Roberts should look for a new job.

JB
JB

I've known Paul Theut for well over 20 years, and I have always known him to be a man of the highest ethical standards, both professionally and personally. I am glad to see the New Times article which illuminates facts that Laurie Roberts deliberately omitted, due to personal reasons, or negligently omitted due to sloppy fact finding and reporting. I was stunned to see that she would take the word of a man with a criminal past and an attorney that probably should have one without seeking facts from the other side of the story and presenting those facts in her articles. Laurie's journalism style, which seems prevalent at the Arizona Republic, is why the Arizona Republic's sole utility is in the outhouse. Great job New Times!

m
m

This is my first time to the New Times in years, but I am very impressed with the quality of the research and the unbiased presentation. Hands down winner on objectivity over the Republic. Perhaps not having a sister's career to shepherd makes it easier to see the clear facts. You summed up the hearing clearly. Having read the transcript, I just could not believe L. Roberts could write what she did. I don't know what I would do if I were Roberts. She obviously believed Grant, but how? How could she believe him? Does anybody believe him? The credibility of the AZ Republic is diminished by her slant on this one, and New Times looks like it does its homework. Well Done!

 
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