R. Booth Goodwin, standing right, is sworn-in as U.S. Attorney during a June 25 public ceremony. (Photo by Lawrence Smith)
CHARLESTON -- Pledging to "not bend to power," southern West Virginia's top cop formally took office in a public ceremony in Charleston.
R. Booth Goodwin II was sworn-in as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia at the Robert C. Byrd federal courthouse on June 25. Following his appointment by President Barack Obama in January, Goodwin officially took office on May 27 following a private commissioning ceremony.
After receiving laudatory comments from Fourth U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Robert B. King, Gov. Joe Manchin and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Goodwin jokingly remarked that he thought his career was ending, and not beginning.
"I tell you, it's like going to your own funeral," he said.
Nevertheless, Goodwin said "I'm humbled to serve this country in this new role" especially in his home state. He passed the praise he received onto the 30 assistant U.S. Attorneys in his office as being the "best law firm in the state of West Virginia" who are "smart, relentless and absolutely committed to the pursuit of justice."
Though tasked with many responsibilities, Goodwin said his focus as U.S. Attorney would be prosecution of prescription drug abuse, sex offenders, mortgage fraud, violations of workplace safety and public corruption. In carrying on the office's "honorable history of fighting that corruption," Goodwin pledged "public officials who abuse their trust face a new level of scrutiny in the coming years."
On the latter point, Goodwin used an anecdote from Logan County to explain his overall commitment to public service as U.S. Attorney. He explained how an attentive deputy sheriff took a woman's allegations of case-fixing by a magistrate seriously which, after notifying the State Police and F.B.I., and a four-year investigation, led to the convictions of 10 public officials and "highly placed individuals."
"There is no justice without good law enforcement," Goodwin said. "If it'd hadn't been for a smart deputy paying attention to everything around him, those convictions might not have taken place."
"Justice is the heart of America," he added. "People who play by the rules, respect their neighbors, and contribute to their communities should be safe from criminals who attack those values.
"Our most vulnerable fellow citizens should be protected from exploitation. Workers shouldn't be forced to earn their living in illegal, unsafe conditions. And everyone—rich or poor, man or woman, old or young, elected official or citizen, from the CEO to the minimum wage earner—should play by the same set of rules."
A native of Charleston, Goodwin, 39, became an assistant U.S. Attorney in 2001. Prior to that he worked in his family's law firm of Goodwin and Goodwin.
Goodwin, a graduate of the Washington and Lee University School of Law, is the son of Joseph R. Goodwin, chief U.S. District judge, and Kay Goodwin, state Secretary of Arts and Education. He is married to Amy Schuler Goodwin, a former WCHS-TV 8 reporter and spokeswoman for former Gov. Bob Wise.