The trial of the billionaire executive of the Palm Beach Polo Club, John Goodman, for DUI, has been requested to be moved to another county, with his defense attorneys citing excessive negative publicity in Palm Beach. The state attorney’s office is apparently not impressed by the request and at this stage it is doubtful whether the request will be sanctioned.
Prosecutors claim that with a population of 1.3 million, the county has more than enough people to select a non-biased jury to help in making a decision at the trial.
Goodman was arrested after his car, a $200,000 Bentley, veered across the road at a Wellington intersection, now over three years ago and straight into the path of young engineering graduate, Scott Wilson. Mr. Wilson died when his Hyundai sedan was pushed off the road into a canal and he was drowned.
The case has already been reported on this website last week because of the wrongful death lawsuit against Goodman by the parents of Mr. Wilson. Goodman has “adopted” his girlfriend, 6 years his junior, in a move which has been alleged to have been designed to prevent his vast personal fortune being taken if the civil action against him is successful.
Goodman’s attorneys have stated that there has been an unprecedented amount of negative publicity about the case in Palm Beach, partly because of the wealth attached to Goodman’s estate, and it would be unfair for him to be tried in that county. It has been stated that it would be almost impossible to find a full jury of people who had not already been affected by media and other coverage of the story in the county.
Goodman’s attorneys had made the same request before his first trial in 2012, but this was quashed at the time and he was then found guilty of DUI and ordered to spend 16 years in a state jail. The trial was then reopened earlier this year when misconduct had been alleged by one of the original jurors, 70 year old Dennis DeMartin.
Another issue altogether has also surfaced. Goodman’s Bentley was reported to have malfunctioned at the time of the accident. The defense attorneys representing the billionaire have apparently been incensed that the vehicle has not been kept as evidence in the retrial.
Assuming that a venue for the trial is decided on at the end of this week by Judge Colbath, the retrial will be held in January next year.
Most people are not billionaires and their DUI arrests rarely reach the front pages of the national and local newspapers as well as taking up air time on the radio and TV. However, their constitutional rights to a fair trial are just the same as John Goodman’s. If you have just been arrested for DUI in Tampa or anywhere in Hillsborough County or anywhere else in Florida, it is vital that you get an aggressive and dedicated DUI attorney to help you defend yourself against the charge.
If you think that when you are arrested for DUI, you have to accept being convicted, then this is far from being the case. There have been many situations in which people have been arrested for DUI and have wound up with a criminal conviction for something which they did not do. In other cases, they have been alleged to have been over the state limit using unreliable or misleading data. In some situations, the protocol for arresting a DUI suspect is not followed properly. In others, a chemical test for DUI is taken so long after the time the suspect had been driving that it is hard to justify using the test results to determine whether the driver was actually over the limit at the time he or she was driving.