Prominent plaintiffs' attorney John Goodson and former state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, nephew of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, have deep political and legal connections around the state.
The Texarkana lawyer, 60, has been one of Arkansas' most successful attorneys. Keil & Goodson PA Attorneys at Law has won tens of millions in class-action cases against companies such as Google and the nation's largest home and auto insurance companies, court records show.
As chairman of the University of Arkansas System board of trustees, Goodson also is a key decision-maker for the university system, including the flagship University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Arkansas' two law schools and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences medical school.
He's also a notable contributor to political campaigns and committees. Goodson, his law firm and family members have contributed more than $939,000 to state and national political campaigns since 1998, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
He has been married since 2011 to Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson, although the two now are in divorce proceedings.
Newly released court records show Goodson has been a target in a federal investigation into possible public corruption -- involving more than $600,000 in payments to Hutchinson -- that was opened in 2013, closed in 2015 and reopened in 2017.
Goodson has not been charged with any crimes and has denied wrongdoing.
The 45-year-old former six-term state Senate and House member is part of Arkansas' politically high-achieving Hutchinson family.
In addition to Arkansas' current governor, the family includes Jeremy Hutchinson's father, Tim Hutchinson, a Republican former U.S. senator. A cousin currently is the top-ranking state senator, Senate President Pro Tempore Jim Hendren, R-Gravette.
Jeremy Hutchinson resigned his state Senate seat on Aug. 31, 2018, as federal prosecutors in Little Rock announced charges against him for campaign finance misspending and tax fraud.
This year, he was charged in separate bribery conspiracy and public-corruption cases in federal courts in western Missouri and western Arkansas.
None of those charges involve payments from Keil & Goodson.
On June 25, Hutchinson pleaded guilty in federal court in eastern Arkansas to conspiring to commit bribery involving an orthodontist who sought favorable legislation, and to one count of filing a false tax return.
He pleaded guilty July 8 in federal court in western Missouri to conspiring to defraud a federally funded charity, behavioral health provider Preferred Family Healthcare Inc.
Hutchinson, who awaits sentencing, faces up to 13 years in prison in the three cases against him, according to plea agreements.
-- Lisa Hammersly
SundayMonday on 08/18/2019