Categories
Archive 2007 STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot

Drunken Driving Fatalities Up In Virginia

Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA)

Deaths due to drunken-driving accidents in 2006, up from 322 the year before. However, Hampton Roads deaths went down from 32 in 2005 to 22 in 2006.

For city-by-city breakdown, see Page 5. By Jen McCaffery

The Virginian-Pilot

Virginia police officers will be out in force looking to nab drunken drivers this Labor Day weekend, the third-most-deadly holiday for alcohol-related deaths.

The annual Checkpoint Strikeforce efforts are happening as state statistics show that for the first time in several years, the percentage of people killed by drunken drivers in Virginia has increased.

In 2005, there were 322 deaths in alcohol-related accidents, compared with 374 deaths in 2006, according to figures from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. However, in most South Hampton Roads cities, the number of fatalities from alcohol-related accidents during the same time period decreased, DMV statistics show.

Twenty-two people died locally in 2006, compared with 32 in 2005.

“Perhaps our friends in Hampton Roads are just listening a little better,” Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell said.

McDonnell, a former Virginia Beach legislator, helped implement a package of new laws that reformed the state’s DUI restrictions in 2004 .

They include harsher punishments for repeat offenders and mandatory jail time for some drunken-driving offenses.

According to the DMV report, Virginia Beach was the only city that recorded a significant increase in the number of fatalities from alcohol-related crashes .

Last year, Virginia Beach had 15 fatalities connected to people driving under the influence of alcohol.

In 2005, there were 10 deaths , DMV statistics show.

“We’ve come a long way, but the increasing number shows that impaired driving is a serious and high priority for both MADD and law enforcement,” said Mike Goodove , president of the Southside chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving .

The resort city’s DUI statistics don’t reflect the work of the Virginia Beach Police Department, which Goodove described as a model for the nation when it comes to impaired driving enforcement.

Virginia Beach police make about 10 percent of all DUI arrests in the state , said Sen. Kenneth Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, who used to work for the department.

In 2005 and 2006 , the department, which has two units dedicated to DUI enforcement, averaged about 2,000 arrests , spokesman Adam Bernstein said.

“The Virginia Beach Police Department does a great job of enforcement, but they can’t be everywhere,” Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Harvey Bryant said.

He estimated that for every driver who is arrested on charges of driving under the influence, another 25 to 35 are on the street driving drunk.

McDonnell said he doesn’t believe that the state’s recent uptick in the percentage of fatalities statewide will become a long-term trend.

Over the past five years, the number of injuries related to people driving under the influence has decreased, he said.

Stolle, who notified next-of-kin about DUI-related deaths when he worked for the Virginia Beach Police Department’s fatality team, said it’s too soon to tell whether the numbers in South Hampton Roads reflect the impact of the new legislation.

“I would hope what you’re seeing is the beginning of a downward trend,” he said.

Jen McCaffery, (757) 446-2627,

jen.mccaffery@pilotonline.com

Memo:
lives lost in 2006

Copyright (c) 2007 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 17792698

Categories
Archive 2007 STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot

Looking Down On Lindsay

Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA)

WHEN IT COMES to the bad (young) girls of Hollywood messing up and seeking redemption, usually for thousands of dollars at a secluded rehab clinic, there’s never a dearth of stories, from singer Brandy’s vehicular manslaughter charges earlier this year to Paris Hilton’s jail stay.

So nary an eyebrow raised when actress/singer Lindsay Lohan got charged with her second DUI in just two months (May 27 and July 24), prompting the former Disney princess to enter yet another drinking rehab facility, this time in Utah.

Even though young adulthood can be the most rebellious period in a person’s life, when it comes to this rule-breaking stage for Hollywood’s elite teens and young adults, their actions can have a far greater impact on their adoring fans and how they deal with the news. Some say Lohan’s status of being a sweet, innocent role model has been flushed down the toilet along with her sobriety.

“Lindsay Lohan thinks that since she is famous, she can do whatever she wants and get away with it,” said Rachel Allensworth, 17, a rising senior at Hickory High School in Chesapeake.

“She is portraying this idea that it’s OK to do drugs and drink and drive, be punished for a few days and then just go out and do it again,” said Shelby Green, 15, a rising sophomore at Nansemond River High in Suffolk.

When you’re in the public eye, said Mike Goodove, coordinator of the Southside Mothers Against Drunk Driving, it’s important to be a model for fans. “She’s sending a bad message to those that look up to her.

“Anyone that drinks and drives and says after one chance (she) ‘learned her lesson,’ but doesn’t, sets an awful example,” Goodove said.

Lohan’s in her third stint in rehab, and people are paying attention to what happens next.

“She’s setting an example of what not to do, what can happen if you drink and drive – it could have been a lot worse,” said Ridgley Ingersoll of Virginia Beach, mother of two boys, 11 and 17.

“If someone told me that they looked up to her, I’d ask them about their personal goals and standards. She’s irresponsible,” said Dustin Goodwin, 16, a Hickory rising sophomore.

Kayla Robinson, 17, a rising senior at Granby High in Norfolk , added: “I’d look at someone funny if they considered her a role model. It doesn’t make any sense to invest ideas in her because she’s in rehab.”

Chelsea Rapanick, a rising senior at Hickory High School in Chesapeake, ccirapanick@yahoo.com

Copyright (c) 2007 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 17481441

Categories
STS&G News

looking down on lindsay

WHEN IT COMES to the bad (young) girls of Hollywood messing up and seeking redemption, usually for thousands of dollars at a secluded rehab clinic, there’s never a dearth of stories, from singer Brandy’s vehicular manslaughter charges earlier this year to Paris Hilton’s jail stay.

So nary an eyebrow raised when actress/singer Lindsay Lohan got charged with her second DUI in just two months (May 27 and July 24), prompting the former Disney princess to enter yet another drinking rehab facility, this time in Utah.

Even though young adulthood can be the most rebellious period in a person’s life, when it comes to this rule-breaking stage for Hollywood’s elite teens and young adults, their actions can have a far greater impact on their adoring fans and how they deal with the news. Some say Lohan’s status of being a sweet, innocent role model has been flushed down the toilet along with her sobriety.

“Lindsay Lohan thinks that since she is famous, she can do whatever she wants and get away with it,” said Rachel Allensworth, 17, a rising senior at Hickory High School in Chesapeake.

“She is portraying this idea that it’s OK to do drugs and drink and drive, be punished for a few days and then just go out and do it again,” said Shelby Green, 15, a rising sophomore at Nansemond River High in Suffolk.

When you’re in the public eye, said Mike Goodove, coordinator of the Southside Mothers Against Drunk Driving, it’s important to be a model for fans. “She’s sending a bad message to those that look up to her.

“Anyone that drinks and drives and says after one chance (she) ‘learned her lesson,’ but doesn’t, sets an awful example,” Goodove said.

Lohan’s in her third stint in rehab, and people are paying attention to what happens next.

“She’s setting an example of what not to do, what can happen if you drink and drive – it could have been a lot worse,” said Ridgley Ingersoll of Virginia Beach, mother of two boys, 11 and 17.

“If someone told me that they looked up to her, I’d ask them about their personal goals and standards. She’s irresponsible,” said Dustin Goodwin, 16, a Hickory rising sophomore.

Kayla Robinson, 17, a rising senior at Granby High in Norfolk , added: “I’d look at someone funny if they considered her a role model. It doesn’t make any sense to invest ideas in her because she’s in rehab.”

Categories
STS&G News

Man pleads guilty to manslaughter in fatal crash

BY MICHELLE WASHINGTON

THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

NORFOLK – As Shane Williams prepared to leave the party, several people tried to stop him from driving.

Shaun Lawhorn asked for Williams’ keys. Lawhorn’s wife, Kate, the designated driver that evening, offered Williams a ride. Several people tried to give Williams their cards for Safe Ride , a Navy program that pays for cab fare.

They made the efforts because Williams had been drinking at a series of gatherings since 11 a.m., and had consumed beer, mixed drinks, gin and shots of Jagermeister. He refused their offers and left in his white Ford pickup about 11 p.m. on Feb. 24.

Just after midnight, Williams crashed head-on into a car driven by Anthony Dominic Wilson on Interstate 264. Williams was driving the wrong way, headed east in the west bound lanes. Williams told police and paramedics that he’d had two or three drinks.

Wilson, 26, died on the highway. When paramedics told Williams, he started crying.

“Oh God, help me please,” he said.

“Please forgive me. I don’t know what’s going on. Please forgive me, Lord.”

In Norfolk Circuit Court on Thursday, Williams, 30, pleaded guilty to aggravated involuntary manslaughter for Wilson’s death. Wilson’s parents cried quietly in the courtroom.

Prosecutor Ron Batliner wrote the account of Williams’ activities before the wreck based on interviews with people at the parties, witnesses at the roadside, and on investigations by State Police, Norfolk Police, and the Navy Criminal Investigative Service. Williams was in the Navy at the time of the crash.

Several people saw Williams driving the wrong way on I-264 before the crash. One woman called 911. Another swerved out of Williams’ way, only to see the collision in his rear-view mirror. Williams told people who had stopped to help that he had come from the HOV ramp.

The ramp was 200 yards away from the wreck, which happened near Newtown Road. Witnesses and State Police said the gates were down.

Batliner did not present evidence of Williams’ blood-alcohol concentration.

But Michael Goodove, an attorney representing Wilson’s family, said it was more than twice the legal limit considered evidence of intoxication.

Wilson was an only child, and the father of a 5-year-old boy, Goodove said.

Categories
Archive 2006 STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot

Man pleads guilty to manslaughter in fatal crash

Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA)

NORFOLK – As Shane Williams prepared to leave the party, several people tried to stop him from driving.

Shaun Lawhorn asked for Williams’ keys. Lawhorn’s wife, Kate, the designated driver that evening, offered Williams a ride. Several people tried to give Williams their cards for Safe Ride , a Navy program that pays for cab fare.

They made the efforts because Williams had been drinking at a series of gatherings since 11 a.m., and had consumed beer, mixed drinks, gin and shots of Jagermeister. He refused their offers and left in his white Ford pickup about 11 p.m. on Feb. 24.

Just after midnight, Williams crashed head-on into a car driven by Anthony Dominic Wilson on Interstate 264. Williams was driving the wrong way, headed east in the west bound lanes. Williams told police and paramedics that he’d had two or three drinks.

Wilson, 26, died on the highway. When paramedics told Williams, he started crying.

“Oh God, help me please,” he said.

“Please forgive me. I don’t know what’s going on. Please forgive me, Lord.”

In Norfolk Circuit Court on Thursday, Williams, 30, pleaded guilty to aggravated involuntary manslaughter for Wilson’s death. Wilson’s parents cried quietly in the courtroom.

Prosecutor Ron Batliner wrote the account of Williams’ activities before the wreck based on interviews with people at the parties, witnesses at the roadside, and on investigations by State Police, Norfolk Police, and the Navy Criminal Investigative Service. Williams was in the Navy at the time of the crash.

Several people saw Williams driving the wrong way on I-264 before the crash. One woman called 911. Another swerved out of Williams’ way, only to see the collision in his rear-view mirror. Williams told people who had stopped to help that he had come from the HOV ramp.

The ramp was 200 yards away from the wreck, which happened near Newtown Road. Witnesses and State Police said the gates were down.

Batliner did not present evidence of Williams’ blood-alcohol concentration.

But Michael Goodove, an attorney representing Wilson’s family, said it was more than twice the legal limit considered evidence of intoxication.

Wilson was an only child, and the father of a 5-year-old boy, Goodove said.

nReach Michelle Washington at (757) 446-2287 or michelle. washington@pilotonline.com.

Memo:
next

Shane Williams faces a maximum of 20 years in the traffic death of Anthony Dominic Wilson. Williams’ sentencing is scheduled for January. He remains free on bond until then.

Copyright (c) 2006 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 13616275

Categories
Archive 2006 STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot

Mother of Va. Beach Man Killed In Crash Sues Driver

Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA)

BY JOHN HOPKINS

CHESAPEAKE – The mother of a 31-year-old Virginia Beach man killed in a July 16 single-car crash in Chesapeake is suing the driver of the vehicle for being reckless and intoxicated.

Candace Wright filed the lawsuit recently in Chesapeake Circuit Court against Michael D. Conover, a 34-year-old Virginia Beach man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to involuntary manslaughter. Conover was sentenced to a year behind bars for the crash on Interstate 64 that killed Jonathan Dale McGlue.

McGlue was one of two passengers in a 1999 Isuzu Rodeo that Conover was driving when he lost control on westbound I-64 at the Greenbrier Parkway interchange. The vehicle flipped several times.

The lawsuit seeks $5 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages. Wright, through her attorney Michael Goodove, filed the suit on behalf of the estate of her son.

The lawsuit accuses Conover of operating the vehicle in a reckless, negligent manner at excessive speeds. It also said Conover was under the influence of intoxicants.

McGlue was ejected from the sport utility vehicle . He died at Chesapeake General Hospital, police said. A front-seat passenger, who was the owner of the SUV, also was injured.

Conover had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.24 – three times the legal limit for driving – prosecutors said during his criminal prosecution.

nReach John Hopkins at (757) 222-5221 or john.hopkins @pilotonline.com.

Memo:
the incident

Michael D. Conover, 34, of Virginia Beach was sentenced to a year in prison for the crash on Interstate 64 that killed Jonathan Dale McGlue, 31. A front-seat passenger in the sport utility vehicle McGlue was riding in was injured.

the lawsuit

McGlue’s mother, Candace Wright, filed a lawsuit against Conover seeking $5 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages.

Copyright (c) 2006 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 12375890

Categories
STS&G News

Mother of Va. Beach man killed in crash sues driver

CHESAPEAKE – The mother of a 31-year-old Virginia Beach man killed in a July 16 single-car crash in Chesapeake is suing the driver of the vehicle for being reckless and intoxicated.

Candace Wright filed the lawsuit recently in Chesapeake Circuit Court against Michael D. Conover, a 34-year-old Virginia Beach man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to involuntary manslaughter. Conover was sentenced to a year behind bars for the crash on Interstate 64 that killed Jonathan Dale McGlue.

McGlue was one of two passengers in a 1999 Isuzu Rodeo that Conover was driving when he lost control on westbound I-64 at the Greenbrier Parkway interchange. The vehicle flipped several times.

The lawsuit seeks $5 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages. Wright, through her attorney Michael Goodove, filed the suit on behalf of the estate of her son.

The lawsuit accuses Conover of operating the vehicle in a reckless, negligent manner at excessive speeds. It also said Conover was under the influence of intoxicants.

McGlue was ejected from the sport utility vehicle . He died at Chesapeake General Hospital, police said. A front-seat passenger, who was the owner of the SUV, also was injured.

Conover had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.24 – three times the legal limit for driving – prosecutors said during his criminal prosecution.

Categories
Archive 2006 STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot

Charge withdrawn in homeless man’s death

THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT VIRGINIA BEACH — Prosecutors on Tuesday withdrew a murder charge against a Norfolk man who was accused of shooting a homeless man at the Oceanfront last year.

Lamar A. Sinclair, 22, of the 900 block of Lexington St. in Norfolk, had been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ronald Wood Jr., 34.

Wood was shot May 26 near the intersection of Baltic Avenue and 24½ Street, police said.

Prosecutors did not explain either in court or after the hearing why they decided to withdraw the charge.
They said they could refile the charge against Sinclair sometime in the future.
He is expected to be released from jail this afternoon.
Another man also was charged in Wood’s murder.
Derrick D. Harrison of the 5200 block of Novella St. in Norfolk is scheduled to stand trial starting March 28.
Categories
STS&G News

Some question lawyer’s melding of cause, career

BY JON FRANK

THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

NORFOLK – Almost 15 years ago, Michael L. Goodove was a law school student when his legal career and life were altered forever.

On a February morning in 1990, Goodove’s younger brother, Jeffrey, was riding in a car that was hit by another vehicle on a narrow, hilly road in Charlottesville.

Jeffrey, a University of Virginia student, was killed instantly.

The driver of the other car was drunk.

Goodove received the tragic news at George Mason University from his mother via telephone.

“I got the call nobody wants to get,” Goodove recalled in a recent interview. “I had never experienced death until my brother was killed. It was the first funeral I ever went to.”

That combination – drunken driving and tragedy – profoundly changed Goodove’s personal life. His family, especially his parents, were never the same.

“It is extremely unnatural to bury a child,” said Goodove, who is now married with three children . “That is something no one should ever have to go through.”

The experience of loss also came to define much of Goodove’s professional life, providing both controversy and a cause – as well as a source of commerce – to his vocation as a lawyer .

In the years since his brother’s death, Goodove has become a lawyer who represents people injured by drunken drivers and a prominent spokesman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He has been the group’s leader for the past 12 years.

In that capacity, Goodove has helped many families navigate the legal system after loved ones were injured or killed by DUI offenders.

“I consider what he does to be a real public service,” said Kaye Walsh, whose daughter, Robin Gustafson, was killed by a drunken driver in Virginia Beach in 1997. “He pulled us through the whole process.”

Goodove also has lobbied the General Assembly tirelessly to stiffen penalties for people convicted of DUI. Virginia now has some of the toughest drunken-driving laws in the country.

Through the years, Goodove became the face of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in South Hampton Roads, an implausible development because Goodove clearly is not a mother.

But his regular appearances in court and on television have made Goodove’s good looks and quiet confidence well-known among those interested in or personally touched by drunken driving.

A recent television advertisement by his Norfolk law firm – Rabinowitz, Swartz, Taliaferro, Swartz & Goodove – focuses on Goodove’s personal story of tragedy.

The blending of commerce with crusade makes some in the legal community uncomfortable. They say Goodove uses his advocacy role, in part, to get business for his law firm.

But some lawyers support Goodove’s ability to turn a passionate personal interest into something that helps him in his professional life.

“I don’t see any conflict,” said Michael I. Ashe, a Virginia Beach lawyer and avid cyclist with a long history of representing fellow cyclists in personal-injury cases.

The advertisement, Ashe said, is only “stating that you are a lawyer who happens to know this particular field backward and forward.”

Other lawyers say Goodove’s level of commitment to the organization makes conflict allegations ridiculous.

“If he had to pay money to be involved with MADD, he would do it,” said Norfolk lawyer Larry Cardon. “He has a passion for this.”

To Goodove, the criticism is unfounded.

For one thing, he said, he always provides drunken-driving victims a list of other lawyers who could represent them in any legal proceeding. Those who choose him are a very small part of his legal practice, he said.

“Never once did I have any financial motivation for getting involved in it,” Goodove said. “I felt that I had a tool that would really help these victims that no one else had.”

It wasn’t always that way.

Early on, Goodove was as carefree and selfish as most recent college graduates. He wanted a glitzy career on Wall Street, not a job where grieving was an integral part of every working day.

He attended law school at the urging of his parents. Law would provide a profession he could always fall back on, they said.

His legal training had hardly begun when his brother was killed. It was a tremendous shock. “He was not just my brother; he was my best friend,” Goodove said.

The family gathered at home in South Hampton Roads to bury Jeffrey, hoping to bring the person who had killed him to justice. Soon, however, the reality of Virginia’s lax drunken-driving laws became depressingly apparent.

They found the police had botched the evidence collection. The drunken driver had been allowed to dispose of the beer in his car before he was questioned by authorities. That led prosecutors in Charlottesville not to pursue criminal charges.

The Goodove family persevered. Eventually, they had to be satisfied with a wrongful-death lawsuit. Criminal charges were never filed.

At that point, Goodove recalled, he began to “detach” from the situation to escape the tragic memories haunting the rest of his family. Returning to George Mason University, he plunged back into his law studies.

But he was troubled by the way he and his family had been treated by authorities. He thought the system was out of whack. He thought it cared little for bringing DUI offenders to justice and nothing for victims.

Soul searching followed, along with an internship in the Fairfax County prosecutor’s office.

“I discovered that I was good in court and liked wearing the white hat and being the good guy,” Goodove said.

When he returned to his hometown of Virginia Beach, he decided to devote his career to helping victims. He went to work for a personal injury law firm and contacted the state chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving .

After starting a local chapter , attending conferences and talking to others, he concluded that drunken driving was a societal problem, deeply imbedded in the culture, cutting across economic strata.

The key problem was that most drunken drivers were walking away from even fatal accidents with rarely more than a slap on the wrist .

“The problem we faced was not so much the convictions but the punishment,” Goodove said.

Goodove’s goal was to build an organization with staying power that would help reshape attitudes over the long term.

That presence has allowed Mothers Against Drunk Driving to keep the image of victims before the media and public. Eventually, it has swung public opinion toward stiffer penalties, especially for repeat offenders.

Another victory was the acceptance of victim-impact statements after convictions. Under the old system, DUI offenders would walk away with probation, without the victims’ families being able to say how the injury or death had affected them.

Once victim-impact statements became part of the law, penalties became harsher. “They can be very powerful,” Goodove said.

Goodove strived to become a bridge between victims and prosecutors, leading the uninitiated through the maze like legal process that had so frustrated his own family.

Initially, Goodove faced opposition. Some judges thought Mothers Against Drunk Driving wanted to abolish alcohol use and that Goodove was a teetotaler who did not want to be around drinkers.

Neither was true.

Goodove drinks occasionally but makes certain he always has alternative transportation. And Mothers Against Drunk Driving has no intention of trying to stop people from drinking, only drinking and driving.

Today, when contacted by a DUI victim, Goodove meets the family and counsels them about what to expect. He provides them with support and advice and helps them prepare victim-impact statements at the appropriate time.

As the number of DUI accidents increases, so do the organization’s membership and donor rolls.

“Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a tragic event to make it close to your heart,” Goodove said.

Victims who survive have a simple choice, Goodove said: “You can vent angrily and let that dominate you, or you can use the pain in a cathartic manner to do some good.”

Categories
Archive 2005 STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot

Some question lawyer’s melding of cause, career

THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

BY JON FRANK

NORFOLK – Almost 15 years ago, Michael L. Goodove was a law school student when his legal career and life were altered forever.

On a February morning in 1990, Goodove’s younger brother, Jeffrey, was riding in a car that was hit by another vehicle on a narrow, hilly road in Charlottesville.

Jeffrey, a University of Virginia student, was killed instantly.

The driver of the other car was drunk.

Goodove received the tragic news at George Mason University from his mother via telephone.

“I got the call nobody wants to get,” Goodove recalled in a recent interview. “I had never experienced death until my brother was killed. It was the first funeral I ever went to.”

That combination – drunken driving and tragedy – profoundly changed Goodove’s personal life. His family, especially his parents, were never the same.

“It is extremely unnatural to bury a child,” said Goodove, who is now married with three children . “That is something no one should ever have to go through.”

The experience of loss also came to define much of Goodove’s professional life, providing both controversy and a cause – as well as a source of commerce – to his vocation as a lawyer .

In the years since his brother’s death, Goodove has become a lawyer who represents people injured by drunken drivers and a prominent spokesman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He has been the group’s leader for the past 12 years.

In that capacity, Goodove has helped many families navigate the legal system after loved ones were injured or killed by DUI offenders.

“I consider what he does to be a real public service,” said Kaye Walsh, whose daughter, Robin Gustafson, was killed by a drunken driver in Virginia Beach in 1997. “He pulled us through the whole process.”

Goodove also has lobbied the General Assembly tirelessly to stiffen penalties for people convicted of DUI. Virginia now has some of the toughest drunken-driving laws in the country.

Through the years, Goodove became the face of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in South Hampton Roads, an implausible development because Goodove clearly is not a mother.

But his regular appearances in court and on television have made Goodove’s good looks and quiet confidence well-known among those interested in or personally touched by drunken driving.

A recent television advertisement by his Norfolk law firm – Rabinowitz, Swartz, Taliaferro, Swartz & Goodove – focuses on Goodove’s personal story of tragedy.

The blending of commerce with crusade makes some in the legal community uncomfortable. They say Goodove uses his advocacy role, in part, to get business for his law firm.

But some lawyers support Goodove’s ability to turn a passionate personal interest into something that helps him in his professional life.

“I don’t see any conflict,” said Michael I. Ashe, a Virginia Beach lawyer and avid cyclist with a long history of representing fellow cyclists in personal-injury cases.

The advertisement, Ashe said, is only “stating that you are a lawyer who happens to know this particular field backward and forward.”

Other lawyers say Goodove’s level of commitment to the organization makes conflict allegations ridiculous.

“If he had to pay money to be involved with MADD, he would do it,” said Norfolk lawyer Larry Cardon. “He has a passion for this.”

To Goodove, the criticism is unfounded.

For one thing, he said, he always provides drunken-driving victims a list of other lawyers who could represent them in any legal proceeding. Those who choose him are a very small part of his legal practice, he said.

“Never once did I have any financial motivation for getting involved in it,” Goodove said. “I felt that I had a tool that would really help these victims that no one else had.”

It wasn’t always that way.

Early on, Goodove was as carefree and selfish as most recent college graduates. He wanted a glitzy career on Wall Street, not a job where grieving was an integral part of every working day.

He attended law school at the urging of his parents. Law would provide a profession he could always fall back on, they said.

His legal training had hardly begun when his brother was killed. It was a tremendous shock. “He was not just my brother; he was my best friend,” Goodove said.

The family gathered at home in South Hampton Roads to bury Jeffrey, hoping to bring the person who had killed him to justice. Soon, however, the reality of Virginia’s lax drunken-driving laws became depressingly apparent.

They found the police had botched the evidence collection. The drunken driver had been allowed to dispose of the beer in his car before he was questioned by authorities. That led prosecutors in Charlottesville not to pursue criminal charges.

The Goodove family persevered. Eventually, they had to be satisfied with a wrongful-death lawsuit. Criminal charges were never filed.

At that point, Goodove recalled, he began to “detach” from the situation to escape the tragic memories haunting the rest of his family. Returning to George Mason University, he plunged back into his law studies.

But he was troubled by the way he and his family had been treated by authorities. He thought the system was out of whack. He thought it cared little for bringing DUI offenders to justice and nothing for victims.

Soul searching followed, along with an internship in the Fairfax County prosecutor’s office.

“I discovered that I was good in court and liked wearing the white hat and being the good guy,” Goodove said.

When he returned to his hometown of Virginia Beach, he decided to devote his career to helping victims. He went to work for a personal injury law firm and contacted the state chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving .

After starting a local chapter , attending conferences and talking to others, he concluded that drunken driving was a societal problem, deeply imbedded in the culture, cutting across economic strata.

The key problem was that most drunken drivers were walking away from even fatal accidents with rarely more than a slap on the wrist .

“The problem we faced was not so much the convictions but the punishment,” Goodove said.

Goodove’s goal was to build an organization with staying power that would help reshape attitudes over the long term.

That presence has allowed Mothers Against Drunk Driving to keep the image of victims before the media and public. Eventually, it has swung public opinion toward stiffer penalties, especially for repeat offenders.

Another victory was the acceptance of victim-impact statements after convictions. Under the old system, DUI offenders would walk away with probation, without the victims’ families being able to say how the injury or death had affected them.

Once victim-impact statements became part of the law, penalties became harsher. “They can be very powerful,” Goodove said.

Goodove strived to become a bridge between victims and prosecutors, leading the uninitiated through the maze like legal process that had so frustrated his own family.

Initially, Goodove faced opposition. Some judges thought Mothers Against Drunk Driving wanted to abolish alcohol use and that Goodove was a teetotaler who did not want to be around drinkers.

Neither was true.

Goodove drinks occasionally but makes certain he always has alternative transportation. And Mothers Against Drunk Driving has no intention of trying to stop people from drinking, only drinking and driving.

Today, when contacted by a DUI victim, Goodove meets the family and counsels them about what to expect. He provides them with support and advice and helps them prepare victim-impact statements at the appropriate time.

As the number of DUI accidents increases, so do the organization’s membership and donor rolls.

“Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a tragic event to make it close to your heart,” Goodove said.

Victims who survive have a simple choice, Goodove said: “You can vent angrily and let that dominate you, or you can use the pain in a cathartic manner to do some good.”

* Reach Jon Frank at 222-5122 or jon.frank@pilotonline.com.

{CAPTION} Michael L. Goodove’s brother was killed by a drunken driver 15 years ago. Goodove, right, a lawyer who also heads the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, has championed his cause and worked for tougher laws in Virginia.

Mort Fryman The Virginian-Pilot

Copyright (c) 2005 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 7828775