Anonymous letter sent to judge who presided over DUI manslaughter trial of John Goodman

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -     More unsolicited legal advice has been sent to the judge who presided over the DUI manslaughter trial of Wellington polo mogul John Goodman.

    The seven-page letter, delivered to the judge's office Wednesday morning, offers a rationale as to why Goodman -- who faces up to 30 years in prison after being convicted of DUI manslaughter in March -- should not be released during an appeal.

    The letter discussed what its anonymous author characterized as "two justice systems in this country, one for the well-off and another for the rest of us."

    It offered examples of instances where judges, in the author's view, handed down lighter than expected sentences in some cases.

    "A criminal judge has a duty to be fair to society as a whole," the author wrote. "Perhaps the best chance at justice will come from the District Court of Appeals [sic], denying a new trial and upholding the verdict."

    The letter was the latest development ahead of Goodman's sentencing hearing on Friday.

    On Tuesday, Colbath ordered one of the jurors who convicted Goodman to answer allegations of misconduct.

    He scheduled a supplemental interview of Dennis DeMartin for 1:59 p.m. on Friday -- just before Goodman's sentencing at 2 p.m.

    "It's not a surprise that the Court granted [a] further interview of Dennis DeMartin," said NewsChannel 5 Legal Analyst Michelle Suskauer. "The Court gives the jury instructions ... to not be their own investigator, to not be their own CSI [and] to not conduct experiments."

    DeMartin created controversy in his self-published book, "Believing in the Truth," about an experiment he did to better understand how much Goodman might have had to drink the night he crashed his car into Scott Wilson.
 
    DeMartin explained he drank three vodka and tonics between 9:00-10:00 p.m. the night before the verdict, and became disoriented walking around his apartment complex as a result.

    "When the alarm went off the next morning, I got up and felt relieved. The question in my mind the night before was answered to me. Even if a person is not drunk, 3 or 4 drinks would make it impossible to operate a vehicle. I got dressed and was in a fine frame of mind to go deliberate the evidence we had," concluded DeMartin to close chapter nine of his book.

    DeMartin conducted the experiment despite being told by Colbath that jurors were supposed to make a decision solely based on evidence provided in the courtroom.

    "I wanted to test it myself and see how I acted after three drinks. I mean I had to make a decision on this man's life here the next day you know," said DeMartin in a recent interview.
 
    Last week, Goodman's defense attorney, Roy Black, called DeMartin's actions a clear case of juror misconduct and said Colbath should throw out Goodman's conviction immediately.

    "I think it's interesting that [the interview] would not be happening today, tomorrow or even Thursday," Suskauer said. "I think it's significant and it may be telling as to which direction the court may go with this. This is a very, very serious allegation and really calls into question whether or not John Goodman may have gotten a fair trial."

    Black and the rest of Goodman's team included DeMartin's book in a renewed push Friday for another trial. On Monday, they added to their request a television interview DeMartin gave Friday and information from several prior cases in which convictions were overturned because jurors conducted experiments.

    Prosecutors said any drinks DeMartin had should be considered a life experience -- not jury misconduct.

    DeMartin told NewsChannel 5 in an earlier interview that he is not looking forward to the possibility of having to interview with Judge Colbath again.

    Daphne Duret, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer, contributed to this report.

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