Our former colleague Sarah Fenske (now toiling as the managing editor at our sister paper in St. Louis, the Riverfront Times, wrote a cool story last April about a shady and shaky attorney named Grant Goodman.
|Bernie Madoff, the crook who's got to be near and dear to attorney Grant Goodman's conspiratorial heart.|
The gist of the piece was that Goodman had been filing bizarre, Andrew Thomas-like racketeering lawsuits on behalf of "incapacitated" Probate Court clients against court-appointed guardians, conservators and lawyers.
Judges, too, were not immune to Goodman's legal assaults and in-court verbal barrages.
Seemingly overnight, he went high-profile, lauded in a column by the
Arizona Republic's Laurie Roberts (who usually knows better) as a kind of white knight for the "little guy."
The dogged Fenske described the insanely litigious Goodman's "checkered" history as a barrister and as a businessman, a gent who personally had racked up court judgments against him totaling more than $24 million.
However, earlier State Bar investigations against Goodman had ended tepidly.
The story also told of a money-making arrangement Goodman entered into with one of his incapacitated clients, a once-wealthy fellow named Edward Ravenscroft.
It was slimy stuff, even for a lawyer.
Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Murguia hammered Goodman (and Goodman's onetime clients, Summit Builders Construction) in a strongly worded order that cites his "repeated misrepresentations concerning the facts and law [that] constitute an improper effort to mislead both the Court and opposing counsel."
Goodman filed the underlying federal case on behalf of Summit Builders in November 2009 against 27 defendants, alleging that the Phoenix firm was owed more than $9 million in construction contracts (Ten Lofts and Hotel Monroe) unpaid when lender Mortgages Ltd. went bankrupt.
Here is a 2008 story about Mortgages Ltd. and its late owner, Scott Coles (remember him, the guy who committed suicide at his home?), written by another former colleague, John Dickerson, now a minister living in Prescott.
Goodman took a page from his failed Superior Court lawsuits against the "cabal" of lawyers, judges, and other assorted bad guys, and compared the alleged "Enterprise" or "Syndicate" against Summit to classic Ponzi schemes executed by Worldcom and the infamous Bernie Madoff.
Last August, Judge Murguia presided at a three-hour hearing on motions to dismiss the case. A day after the hearing, and before the judge ruled, Goodman abruptly and voluntarily dismissed his own case.
"Here, Summit's actions, as well as its misstatements of both fact and law in its briefs and at oral argument...evidence bad faith," the judge wrote of Goodman's lawyering and his 11th-hour dumping of a case that was being fiercely litigated to that point..
The construction firm tried to distance itself from Goodman after last August's disastrous oral arguments and filed its own response to Murguia's order to show cause why she shouldn't impose sanctions against the plaintiffs and their blubbering barrister.
Another attorney wrote on behalf of Summit that the firm does "not attempt to defend or otherwise justify the pleadings filed on its behalf...by its former counsel Grant Goodman."
But Judge Murguia concluded that Summit "had an obligation to make at least a cursory inquiry into Mr. Goodman's representations in the pleading and its failure to do so does not excuse it but rather suggests bad faith."
Murguia noted that she wasn't about to allow Summit, which describes itself as a "large, sophisticated contractor who possesses a high level of experience and expertise in the business administration, construction management and superintendence" of complex projects, to skate so easily.
Now, to the punishment:
Murguia has ordered both Grant Goodman and his former client, Summit, to pay all the attorney's fees of the former defendants. This will be no small sum, believe us.
The judge didn't specify how the percentage is to be broken down between Goodman and Summit, though two firms already have submitted their billings, $43,000 in all.
That's just for starters.
Attorney's fees have yet to be filed by seven other law firms involved in the oddball case.
In other words, Grant Goodman is going to owe his legal peers a lot of money, and soon.
We'll check in to see who he sues next.
Good work, State Bar of Arizona, in policing your own!
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