JOHN GOODSON

John Goodson, the Texarkana lawyer whose name has surfaced in the federal court hearings on Jeremy Hutchinson’s criminal case, today answered questions I’d posed as a result of those mentions.

Goodson, chair of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, has been a partner in a law firm specializing in class action cases. Hutchinson has testified that he received a monthly retainer of $20,000 from the Goodson firm to assist in such cases. He said in testimony Monday that the FBI had once asked him if the money was intended as a “bribe” to sponsor legislation helpful to Goodson. He testified he had no damaging information to give the FBI about Goodson.

Today, Hutchinson’s former girlfriend testified that she believed the retainer was for help on legislation.

In a telephone interview, Goodson said, “That’s not true.”

He said his firm, Keil and Goodson of Texarkana, had a signed contract with Hutchinson as it had with other trial lawyers who essentially serve as rainmakers for the firm. They are paid for introducing clients and theories of litigation that could be profitable for the firm to pursue.

Goodson said it was his partner, Matt Keil, not he, who had signed the contract with Hutchinson and it lasted six to eight years. He said he wasn’t conversant with all the details, but that it started at $20,000 and ended up at $5,000 a month. “I’m told we paid him about $690,000. He brought three class action cases that brought us $740,000, so we made $50,000 off it.”

He said the firm never advertised for clients, but relied on referrals from lawyers. He recalled that cases suggested by Hutchinson included insurance and credit card claims.

There was no legislative quid pro quo, Goodson said.

“I never had him do any legislation,” Goodson said.

He added, “I’ve never given a penny to Jeremy Hutchinson’s legal defense fund and I don’t know anyone who has given him any money.”

Finally, I asked him, is he being investigated by the FBI?

“No.”

Goodson said he hadn’t seen Hutchinson in perhaps three years.