Reuben Goodman was born in Brockton on July 14, 1913. He graduated from Harvard College cum laude in 1935 and from Harvard Law School in 1938. From 1943 to 1946, he was chief counsel for the Federal Office of Price Administration. In 1946, he served with the Department of Justice in Seoul, Korea, as an advisor to the Korean Ministry of Justice. From 1947 to 1950, he was stationed in Tokyo, Japan, with the Allied government forces to help reestablish a civilian government; he was cited for his work by the Japanese government.
For the next fifteen years Justice Goodman practiced law in Boston, specializing in criminal defense work; he was co-counsel in the celebrated Brink's Robbery trial. He also served as general counsel for the Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union. In that capacity, he successfully defended the books Fanny Hill and Tropic of Cancer against obscenity charges. From 1966 to 1972, Justice Goodman was chief appellate counsel for the Massachusetts Defenders Committee (which later became the Committee for Public Counsel Services); during that time, he argued and wrote briefs in fifty-one cases before the Supreme Judicial Court. In 1972, Governor Frank Sargent appointed him as one of the first six justices of the newly created Appeals Court. Justice Goodman served on the Court until his death on August 12, 1982.
The Appeals Court's Memorial to Justice Goodman may be found at 16 Mass. App. Ct. 1111 (1983).