UPDATE, JAN. 29, 5:30 A.M.: The leader of a Nevada-based nonprofit advocacy organization, which is dedicated to assisting the wrongfully accused and is currently working on behalf of Michael Goodwin, says he and his followers are not “surprised or disappointed” by the appellate ruling that keeps the defendant in prison for the murders of Mickey and Trudy Thompson and that Goodwin is actually “relieved” to have lost the appeal.
Wait … what?
Let John J. Bradley, managing director of Justice On Trial, explain …
By now you've heard that Mike Goodwin's conviction was upheld by the 2nd District Appellate Court. (In the event you haven't had the opportunity to review the court's opinion, here it is: [He provides a link to a pdf of the 2nd District Opinion on Michael Goodwin's Appeal 1-24-2015; it is 164 pages.)
We are not surprised or disappointed by the ruling. As you may know, this court can only deal with what is on the record of the trial. Although we attempted to get information to the court with evidence that had been suppressed by the L.A.D.A. at trial and for 5 years after the trial, either we were unsuccessful or, if they did receive it, it was ignored. Mike's appellate attorney has agreed to file a petition for a re-hearing at the 2nd District Appellate Court and a petition for review at the California Supreme Court. We have been working on an outline for a habeas writ, state and federal and will file it as soon as we're able, hopefully in the not too distant future.
The evidence we now have will document a malicious prosecution and will be pled until it is heard. The appellate justices did not get, or ignored, this evidence and we are confident of a reversal or dismissal when this evidence comes to light.
Mike was actually relieved that the verdict was upheld. Strange as that may seem, there are several reasons: first, he had great trepidation about going back to the L.A. Jail where he spent 3 years. It is a violent place and it is our feeling there are interest out there that would benefit from Mike's death. There are few places better for such interests to get that done than the L.A. Jail.
Secondly, had the verdict been reversed by the appeal court, there is a chance that the D.A. would have re-filed, if, for no other reason than to delay the inevitable, Mike's virtually assured exoneration.
Third, if the verdict had not been affirmed, this would have been on a “technicality,” not hard evidence. By getting the evidence we now have heard by a court, Mike will be exonerated as innocent. Once this evidence comes out at any of the above hearings, there is little or no chance of the D.A. re-filing charges. The documentation that this was a wrongful conviction is now overwhelming.
Lastly, it is Mike desire not just to be exonerated but he wants to expose this extreme miscarriage of justice in league with Justice on Trial, Inc. to assist in the reform of our justice system to reduce or eliminate this spurious, malevolent conviction for political and financial reasons.
Please feel free to call on me should you have questions or concerns,
John J. Bradley
Justice On Trial
PO Box 230
Glenbrook, NV 89413-0230
(775) 749-5522 or (530) 552-3227
ORIGINAL POST, JAN. 27, 6:06 A.M.: A Newport Beach movie producer and Orange County private investigator were confident in October that they would convince a state appeals court to overturn the murder conviction of Michael Goodwin. But Silkwood executive producer Larry Cano and former Scottsdale police detective-turned-P.I. Paul E. Blackford were not members of the appeals panel, which on Monday upheld Goodwin's conviction in connection with the 1988 slayings of his ex-business partner Mickey Thompson and the racing legend's wife Trudy.
Thompson, 59, and his wife were gunned down by a pair of males on bicycles around 6 a.m. March 16, 1988, in the driveway of their home in the gated San Gabriel foothills community of Bradbury as they headed to work at the Anaheim Stadium offices of Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group. Goodwin had been a partner before his business relationship with Thompson soured. Goodwin has been in prison since his 2007 conviction for orchestrating the hits.
Cano and Blackford, who told the Weekly they had upcoming book and television miniseries that would detail the “proof” Goodwin is innocent, explained that the appeal by the defense was based on:
* Goodwin's ex-girlfriend, who he supposedly confessed to according to the prosecution, being unstable;
* Some 9mm rounds that were said to have come from a gun Goodwin owned could not have come from his gun;
* A couple's eyewitness testimony putting Goodwin near the murder scene before the shootings being unreliable;
* And more than 240 instances of the prosecution suppressing evidence that helped Goodwin's case.
Agreeing that her client could be “a jerk” and “an angry man” given to “over-the-top statements,” Gail Harper told the Los Angeles-based justices in October. “The evidence against Mr. Goodwin is so weak.” For example, there was no direct evidence of any relationship between Goodwin and the perpetrators, who have never been caught.
But Deputy Attorney General Louis Karlin told the panel “the motive is shown very strongly by the nature of the threats'' against Thompson by Goodwin. “Only one person has that motive.”
While the appeals panel agreed with a trial judge's assessment that the case was based on circumstantial evidence, “the circumstantial evidence was overwhelming,” according to the written ruling.
“Here, the circumstances fully justified the inference that (Goodwin) conspired with the shooters,” the justices write. “While defendant tells us what evidence was absent–such as evidence of payments to the shooters, telephone records, witnesses to defendant's solicitation of the murders, meetings or talks with the shooters–he ignores the evidence that was adduced.
“The Thompsons were killed in a carefully planned operation for which there was no robbery or other motive. Defendant was present in the neighborhood with binoculars and another person a few days before the murders. The shooters knew where and when to find the Thompsons, how to get to their house and how best to escape the scene.
“Defendant repeatedly threatened to kill Mickey Thompson and hurt his family and indeed made statements to two witnesses about the cost involved in having Mr. Thompson killed, and told others he was too smart to get caught. These facts were placed in evidence, and the jury could properly infer from them that defendant agreed with the shooters to commit the murders.”
The case against Goodwin was not only unusual because it was circumstantial. The murders happened in Los Angeles County, but prosecutors there originally refused to file charges citing lack of evidence. But Orange County prosecutors, who considered Goodwin the prime suspect, had him arrested in 2001 and tried in Santa Ana under the legal theory that he planned the murders here.
An appellate court panel found that Orange County lacked jurisdiction to prosecute. The LA County District Attorney's office filed its case against Goodwin in June 2004.
Cano contends OC prosecutors had been pressured to target Goodwin by Collene Campbell, who was Mickey Thompson's sister, the former San Juan Capistrano mayor and a local Republican Party official. Campbell would say after Goodwin's conviction that justice was finally served.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.