Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Goolsby "War Story:" My Big Trials and My Forrest Gump Moments

No doubt, you all have seen the Tom Hanks movie, Forrest Gump.  You will recall how, in the movie, it seemed that, because of fate, or due to a strange series of coincidences, Forrest Gump was always around major historical events and famous people, from Elvis, to J.F.K., to Nixon.  Sometimes, in my own life, it seems I have experienced some major "Gump moments," too.  Most of my "Gump moments" have involved being associated with some of the biggest criminal trials in recent Georgia history.  (Hopefully, my comparison to Gump's association with important people and events does not evoke any other comparisons to Gump himself!)
For example, when I was only  a kid, my parents took me to see the trial of infamous murderer A.C. "Cliff" Park, in Jefferson, Georgia.  This was my first courtroom experience and my first taste of what a mega-trial is like!  In one of the most notorius murder cases in Georgia history, Park was found guilty of hiring four men to dynamite the car of our local, (Jackson County), Solicitor General, Floyd Hoard.
Later, as a young attorney, I, once again, was in the right place at the right time.  I was hired, along with my law partner, to work with the D.A. in Valdosta, Georgia, as a special prosecutor, in the infamous murder trial of E.K. "Keller" Wilcox, Jr.  In a very high profile, extremely riveting trial, Wilcox was tried for murdering his secretary and burying her remains in a box which was not discovered until seven years later.  In that notorious Georgia murder case, which resulted in a conviction, the defendant was represented by famous Georgia trial lawyer Bobby Lee Cook.
Likewise, my career as a federal prosecutor involved some additional examples of being in the right place at the right time.  As an Assistant U.S. Attorney, located in Augusta, Georgia, I was in the right place to try some of the largest fraud and public corruption cases in Georgia history, including the largest home healthcare fraud case, (against executives of Augusta-based Healthmaster, Inc.), and the largest vote-buying case in U.S. history, (28 defendants, including the sheriff, from Dodge County were convicted of election fraud).  Finally, about five years ago, I was lead prosecutor in the high profile, federal trial and conviction of Senator Charles Walker, from Augusta, who was the highest ranking Georgia politician ever to be convicted.
Whether or not it was fate, or merely a series of strange coincidences, I have enjoyed being around each of these mega cases! As a trial lawyer, I also always look forward to my next big case and my next "Gump moment!"
How about you?  Even if you are not a criminal trial lawyer, have you, due to fate or coincidence, ever been around a major historical event or person?  What is your "Gump moment?"

1 comment:

  1. I'm not a criminal lawyer but was a legal secretary for about 16 years and had to attend a couple of trials of notorious locals, which did prove interesting. I don't want to go into details, though.