Judge rules against mental incompetence, will preside over Dennis DeMartin juror misconduct trial

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Attorneys for Dennis DeMartin, the juror charged with contempt of court after the DUI manslaughter trial of John Goodman, may file a motion to declare the former juror mentally incompetent after 15th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Jeffrey Colbath denied their initial request on Friday.

During an afternoon hearing at the Palm Beach County Courthouse, Colbath also denied a request from defense attorneys that would have removed him from presiding over the case.

Robert Gershman and Joe Walsh, the attorneys, had argued that Colbath's "present conduct, coupled with his prior statements about Defendant ("antics," "marginally credible witness" who is "recklessly indifferent to the truth in answering questions ... lacks candor, sincerity and an appreciation of the sacred role a juror plays in the judicial system)," would not allow DeMartin to receive a fair hearing or trial before Colbath.

Colbath has not decided whether sworn statements made by DeMartin made during the trial would be considered during the contempt of court trial, which begins on Monday.

"I mean, I think it's more, "I say tomato, you say tomato," Walsh said. "I mean, we certainly filed notice that Mr. DeMartin requires ... being evaluated by experts. And, that is really what the rule does. It allows for a person to be able to assist his counsel in a hearing. And, right now, we have a serious concern about that."

A panel of six jurors, including DeMartin, had convicted Goodman of DUI manslaughter in connection with the death of University of Central Florida student Scott Wilson in 2012.

Earlier this year, Colbath vacated Goodman's conviction after DeMartin admitted that he conducted a drinking experiment before jury deliberations.

DeMartin was also alleged to have hidden a former wife's DUI arrest from attorneys and Colbath.

Gershman and Walsh said they planned to ask the 4th District Court of Appeal to drop the charge against DeMartin.

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