Today we mourn the loss of William “Bill” Goodman, an attorney known for his work on human rights and civil liberties and an avid supporter and colleague of DJC.
Bill’s father, Ernest Goodman, was a trailblazing attorney who opened the first racially integrated law firm in the country in Detroit in 1951. Bill carried on his father’s legacy by representing Guantanamo Bay detainees, Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange, and the wrongfully convicted teens in the notorious “Central Park jogger” case as part of his work with the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. He was most proud of the work he and his father did getting cases dismissed for participants in the Attica Prison Uprising of 1971. Their work resulted in successful litigation or a pardon for thousands of criminal prosecutions.
In 2007, Bill returned to Detroit and in 2011 co-founded the Sugar Law Center for Economics and Social Justice. He was also made a permanent board member of the Detroit chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
“He was an incredibly kind, wise, helpful, and warm presence in our world. Excellent judgment, a wealth of experience, and a terrific sense of humor. He’d take your call to answer questions about cases at any hour. Truly irreplaceable.” wrote DJC staff attorney Joe McGuire.
Our Managing Director of Economic Equity Practice, Eric Williams, wrote: “I had the pleasure of knowing Bill Goodman for over 30 years. He was an incredible lawyer and a great guy. Like his father Ernie, he was dedicated to social justice in a way most people only pretend to be. He lived it and taught it to everyone who had the pleasure of his company. He was generous and kind and brilliant. The world is a better place for him having been here and I will miss him.”
DJC sends its condolences to Bill’s family and loved ones. His legacy serves as an example of what we aspire towards in our law practice.