One of My Toughest Cases
A Fierce Advocate
William L. Goode The Goode Law Firm, A P.L.C. Lafayette
Travis Gauthier Photographs
More than 40 years in practice
B.A. Texas A&M – 1968
J.D. Louisiana State University Law School – 1971
Native of Shreveport
“Never, never quit” is a motto that William L. Goode, a criminal defense lawyer, lives by, and there’s no doubt that his can-do attitude is what sets him apart from others in his field. Goode spent many days at his father’s law office listening to his father talk about the law frequently while growing up in Shreveport, so it comes as no surprise that he took on the family profession.
After practicing law with his father and brother, Goode went on to become an assistant district attorney in Caddo Parish, then an assistant U.S. attorney and then a U.S. magistrate in Lafayette in 1980, but trial work as a litigator continued to call his name. He resigned from his position in 1983. After working for two different law firms in Lafayette, he opened his own practice in 1986. Goode has been practicing law in Louisiana for more than 40 years and in Texas for almost 12 years.
One of Goode’s most memorable cases began in 2006, when he took on the case of a man who had been indicted in federal court for drug conspiracy with allegations of possession of marijuana and cocaine with intent to distribute. The case raged on and on, with Goode filing motion after motion. The case finally went to trial and resulted in a mistrial.
Goode uncovered evidence of his client’s innocence and filed a third motion to dismiss. In turn, the government offered Goode’s client the option to plead guilty to a lesser charge that would result in a sentence of 12 to 17 months in a federal penitentiary instead of 15 to 20 years.
“… I knew [my client] was innocent and that he should not spend a day in jail for something he did not do,” Goode bluntly says. “We refused the government’s offer.”
In the face of his never-quitting attitude, the government dismissed the entire criminal case, but in return his client had to agree to a pretrial diversion agreement for one year and sign an agreement that he would not sue the government for malicious prosecution. At this point, the case had been going on for nearly five years, and Goode had worked more than 1,000 hours on the case. The client and his family were worn out and wanted the threat of a jail sentence to be over, so his client agreed.
Wrongful convictions of innocent people are not uncommon. Goode says there is an alarming trend among a minority of state and federal prosecutors to only seek convictions and to disregard truth and justice.
“People facing criminal prosecution by those prosecutors need a fierce advocate who is willing to challenge the power of the state and federal governments no matter how hard it is and no matter how long it takes; I am that advocate,” Goode proudly states.
Goode recalls another case that began in 2002. His client, a high school senior at the time, was charged in a federal cocaine conspiracy. The government relied mostly on the testimony of previously convicted drug dealers who were serving lengthy sentences in various federal penitentiaries. In exchange for their testimonies, they were hoping to get their sentences reduced.
During the course of the trial, evidence surfaced that prompted Goode and the other defense lawyers to ask the judge to grant a mistrial because of credibility issues raised about the government’s jailhouse witnesses, but their motion was denied, and Goode’s client and the other defendants were convicted and remanded to custody pending their sentences.
The next day Goode learned of additional evidence that directly proved that some of the government’s jailhouse witnesses had in fact lied about Goode’s client and the other defendants. As a result, Goode and the other defense lawyers filed another motion for mistrial on the basis of this newly discovered evidence, which the court, several months later, granted. The government then dismissed the case.
With numerous cases under his belt, Goode advises young attorneys to remember that “the law is a jealous mistress, and to properly do your job, you will have to work long hours, and do not cheat. Cheating takes the fun out of practicing law.”
An avid recycler with a penchant for fast cars, Goode also notes that it is important to “… treat your clients with respect at all times, communicate with them, listen to them and learn from them.”