The West Palm Beach DUI manslaughter case of a wealthy polo magnate accused of killing a 23-year-old recent college graduate captivated both local and national media.
West Palm Beach DUI manslaughter attorneys watched the case with interest, particularly the claim of wealth bias, juror misconduct and the issue of how a multi-million dollar settlement will affect the proceedings.
The defendant, John Goodman, was convicted last month of DUI manslaughter (FL Statute 316.193) and vehicular homicide, and is scheduled to be sentenced at the end of this month.
Now, his attorneys are fighting for a new trial on the basis of juror misconduct, as well as the notion that the media and prosecutors improperly hyped the “wealth bias” against their client.
Now, the issue of whether a large settlement in the case will affect this has arisen.
According to The Palm Beach Post, civil suits brought by the alleged victim’s family against the defendant were dropped in lieu of a $46 million settlement – speculated to be $1 million for each year their son might have been expected to live had the accident not occurred.
However, attorneys for the victim’s parents said most of that money came from the insurance company, as well as the Player’s Club, where Goodman was alleged to have drank the night of the crash in Wellington.
So will it sway the judge to release the defendant while he awaits a ruling on a new trial?
It depends, but it hasn’t so far, as Goodman remains in jail. Judges have a lot of discretion when it comes to matters like this, and sometimes their decision can depend on certain acts of good faith. For most of us, that might mean immediately paying back money you stole in a theft case or checking into rehab after a drug offense. Still, it really depends on the circumstances of each case, including whether the alleged offense was violent and what your criminal history looks like.
The wealth bias issue might be hard to prove, but it’s certainly worth a shot, as it’s probably true. People who aren’t wealthy may harbor some resentment toward those who are – especially if they have no problem flaunting their wealth. It doesn’t make them guilty of any crime, but it can hurt their likability in the eyes of the jury. That’s not supposed to matter, but unfortunately, sometimes it does.
With regard to the issue of juror misconduct, this may be the strongest chance Goodman has for a new trial.
According to local media, an alternate juror has filed an affidavit, alleging that jurors talked amongst themselves about certain aspects of the case and traded their opinions of Goodman – prior to jury deliberations. It’s going to depend on the specifics of the jurors all say under oath, but if it’s true, that could be grounds for a mistrial if the judge determines that those actions may have influenced the outcome of the trial.
We also know that one of the jurors is intending to write a book about the experience. That’s not illegal, but it could help bolster the defense’s position – which all along was that the proceedings took on more of a circus atmosphere than a trial.
If you have been arrested for DUI manslaughter in West Palm Beach, the Palm Beach County criminal defense attorneys at Musca Law can build an effective defense on your behalf. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today for a confidential consultation at (800) 687-2252.