John Goodman DUI manslaughter case: Judge won't allow juror interviews

— The judge in John Goodman's DUI manslaughter case has denied yet another request from Goodman's defense to probe allegations of juror misconduct in the case.

Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath on Monday issued an order saying that Goodman's attorneys can not interview Dennis DeMartin and the other jurors about whether DeMartin told them he planned to conduct a drinking experiment the night before convicted the 48-year-old polo mogul in the 2010 death of 23-year-old Scott Wilson.

DeMartin recounted details of his "experiment" in a self-published book he wrote about his experience as a juror, but he later told Colbath he shared nothing about his test with the other jurors.

Goodman had sought a new trial based on DeMartin's experiment, saying it directly violated the judge's orders to jurors not to conduct their own investigation. But Colbath rejected the request and said it had no adverse impact on the jurors' guilty verdict.

In a motion filed earlier this week, Goodman's attorneys said juror Michael St. John called them and claimed that DeMartin lied when he told Colbath that he didn't tell other jurors about the drinking test.

Five days after DeMartin on May 11 swore in court that he downed three vodkas only to satisfy his curiosity about whether Goodman was impaired on the night of the crash, St. John called Goodman's attorneys with a different version of the story, attorneys Roy Black and Mark Shapiro wrote in a motion filed late Monday.

In a call to Black's office, St. John said DeMartin had lied under oath to the judge. St. John said DeMartin told other jurors that he was going to conduct the drinking experiment, and they discouraged him from doing so, according to an affidavit of a receptionist who answered the call.

"Mr. St. John did not mention, nor did I inquire, whether Mr. DeMartin shared the results of his experiment with him or any of the other jurors," receptionist Marvin Simeon wrote in the affidavit.

It was exactly this - what St. John didn't say - that Colbath said led him to conclude that the verdict should be left unchallenged even if St. John's statements were true.

"The other jurors were not aware of the results of juror DeMartin's drinking experiment," Colbath concluded.

St. John's statements raise new questions about DeMartin's veracity, Goodman's attorneys said. They wanted Colbath to let them interview all six jurors about what they knew about DeMartin's drinking experiment.

If other jurors knew about the experiment, particularly DeMartin's findings, Goodman's attorneys hoped they could finally persuade Colbath to throw out the March 23 verdict and order a new trial.

Goodman on Friday was released from jail on a $7 million bond, while his lawyers appeal his conviction and 16-year prison sentence. To remain free, he also must pay an estimated $1 million annually for off-duty sheriff's deputies to watch him constantly.

Colbath has denied four requests by Goodman's defense team for a new trial. Also on Monday, he wrote a 16-page order explaining why he didn't believe DeMartin's drinking experiment tainted the verdict. While he announced his decision in court after quizzing DeMartin, the order explains why he didn't think DeMartin's experiment denied Goodman a fair trial.

In his ruling, Colbath refers to nearly a dozen court decisions that establish when a juror's out-of-court investigation warrants a new trial. In most cases, the key is whether the juror shared his information with fellow jurors and whether they used it in their deliberations.

In DeMartin's case, he told Colbath he didn't report his findings to fellow jurors.

In his book, DeMartin said he discovered that after three vodka tonics - the same amount of liquor witnesses said Goodman drank before the crash - he was "confused" and concluded that "three or four drinks would make it impossible to operate a vehicle."

"It defies belief that Mr. DeMartin would not have returned the next morning to report his 'findings' to the other jurors," Black wrote earlier this week.

Black also blasted Colbath for previously prohibiting him from questioning jurors.

"In the past the court has consistently refused to search for the truth or even to permit counsel to do so."

Neither DeMartin nor St. John, of West Palm Beach, could be reached for comment about the latest allegations.

When the jurors were summoned back to court by Colbath and questioned about whether Goodman's wealth influenced their decision, St. John complained that he felt pressured by other jurors to find Goodman guilty. Colbath ultimately rejected Black's claims of impropriety

Staff writer Jane Musgrave contributed to this story.

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