ROBERT Gordon Gooch
R. Gordon Gooch, long time Washington lawyer and former Law Clerk of Chief Justice Earl Warren died Wednesday. He was 86. Dubbed by Washington Post writers as an "Oversized, folksy lobbyist" (he was six foot five in his socks and hailed from Texas), Gooch graduated from Washington & Lee University in 1956, served two years as an officer in the US Army on the mostly peaceful Korean DMZ, and went on to the University of Texas Law School where he was elected Editor-in-Chief of the Texas Law Review. After his stint as a law clerk for Chief Justice Earl Warren in the 1961 term, he joined the law offices of Baker & Botts in Houston, Texas. While there he also acted as General Counsel to the Harris County Republican Party under the Chairmanship of George H. W. Bush. He returned to Washington, DC. as General Counsel for the Federal Power Commission (now FERC) in 1969. In 1972 he joined Nixon's Committee to re-elect the President as regional director of New York and Pennsylvania, ostensibly in charge but actually under the auspices of then-governor Nelson D. Rockefeller. Also in 1972, he opened the Washington office of Baker & Botts, and later his own firm, Travis & Gooch. While his focus was on energy law, over his long and colorful career he also tried three cases before the US Supreme Court, represented the first hijacker of a commercial aircraft, Leon Bearden, on appeal (mitigating his sentence on the grounds that kidnapping didn't apply if everyone got to where they intended to be going), handled the many affairs of the widow of Silver Dollar Jim, defended a pirate captain, exorcized a zombie, secured an annulment from the Vatican Curia for a married woman of purported unblemished virtue, got an Episcopal priest off of a heresy charge, and was instrumental in helping to write legislation for Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Majority Whip Rep. Tom Delay's Contract with America. In his later years he waged a crusade against the pipeline profiteering adversely affecting US consumers of electricity. He is survived by his son, Gordon, daughter, Ellen, granddaughter, Aubrey, and sister, Gay Estes. In lieu of services or flowers, well-wishers are asked to drink an extra dry martini to his memory, preferably using Beefeater Gin. No services are scheduled at this time.
Published in The Washington Post on Sep. 27, 2020.