Goodman Verdict Thrown Into Doubt By Former Juror’s Admission Of Alcohol Experimentation In Book

There is an interesting challenge to the conviction of John Goodman, the creepy multimillionaire who killed a man in a drunken driving accident. He became even more infamous when he adopted his girlfriend to try to protect his wealth from court-ordered damages. Now, his lawyer is seeking to overturn the conviction after a juror, Dennis DeMartin of Delray Beach, wrote a self-published book detailing his experience in the trial. The book includes DeMartin’s account of how he got drunk on the night before the guilty verdict to see how the alcohol would have affected Goodman.

In addition to the satisfaction of the conviction, the Wilson family will receive a $40 million settlement from Goodman’s estate plus an additional $6 million from one of the bars where Goodman was drinking the night of the crash.

Before the trial, Palm Beach Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath gave jurors the standard order not to “experiment” outside of the courthouse on facts or allegations related to the case. DeMartin describes precisely that type of experimentation in drinking three vodkas at home: “It was bothering me that if there was proof that if Mr. Goodman only had 3 or 4 drinks, how drunk would he be? How drunk would I be? I decided to see. . . . At 9pm I had a vodka and tonic, followed by another at 9:30pm and a third at 10pm.” He recounted how he was confused and “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 to deliberate the evidence we had.”

Such juror experimentation was lionized in Twelve Angry Men when Juror Number 8 (Henry Fonda) produces a knife that matched the murder weapon that he found near the defendant’s home:

Such experimentation makes for great movies and terrible trials. I would have to agree with Defense counsel that that is irrefutable evidence of juror misconduct. The question is whether it is sufficient now to throw the entire conviction — and expense of trial — out the window. On one hand, the evidence against Goodman was overwhelming and it is doubtful that the experimentation changed his juror’s mind. However, how can we ever really know? DeMartin is entitled to a fair trial based on the evidence of the case without external influence or experimentation. DeMartin details how the experimentation confirmed his view of the inability of Goodman to operate a vehicle. He admitted to relying on evidence outside of the record. While jurors are told to use their experiences and common sense, they are not allowed to create those experiences for the purposes of trial. Thus, some jurors would naturally think about their own experiences with alcohol in reaching a verdict. It is a tough line because jurors were not prohibited from drinking. Having three vodkas would not be viewed as misconduct or even remarkable. However, here it was done for the purposes of confirming allegations in the case. DeMartin drank the specific drinks and amounts to test the defense claims. It is not clear as to the degree that he may have shared those results with the other jurors.

DeMartin has created a terrible muddle in his desire to capitalize on his small role in a high-profile trial. The court could rule that, while clearly misconduct, that the experimentation can sufficiently close to a normal lifestyle experience that it would be treated as harmless error. If a juror mentioned in the jury room that he had drunk similar amounts in the past was not competent to drive, that would not be viewed as misconduct but the sharing of past experiences. In that vein, the court could condemn a clear disregarding of the rules by this juror while refusing to set aside the verdict. However, in my view, it is a close case. What is more clear is that DeMartin acted in contempt of the court order. The question is whether the judge will pursue him to hold him accountable for the breach.

What do you think? Should Goodman be given a new trial?

Source: Sun Sentinel

21 thoughts on “Goodman Verdict Thrown Into Doubt By Former Juror’s Admission Of Alcohol Experimentation In Book”

  1. Why hasn’t Dennis DeMartin been either arrested or charges been brought against him?? It does not make sense. It’s the same as Jury Tampering which at the very least is illegal, not to mention immoral! When you are on a jury, you take an oath to uphold whatever is imposed. When you break that oath there should be consequences. This guy is a PUTZ! A complete A_ _ hole. He should be held completely accountable whether Goodman gets a new trial or not. And if he does get a new trial, this PUTZ should have to pay all Court Costs!

  2. Goodman got 16 years. To be free on $7 million bond while lawyers argue for new trial.

    Goodman’s team will likely make their push based on trial juror Dennis DeMartin’s claims in a self-published book, “Believing in the Truth,” that he had three vodkas and tonic on the night before deliberations in Goodman’s trial to see if he would have been impaired at the time of the crash. Colbath ruled Friday before sentencing that DeMartin’s conduct did not warrant a new trial.

  3. Doesn’t say a bit for your critical thinking skills that you buy into his trunk of crap.

  4. Dude is a total fraud who makes his living as a high paid parasite sucking on the misery of others.

    He made his statement clear in earlier threads: he believes computer aided automatic scream identification is a real enough technology that he defended it. He and Gene placed their bets early and heavily on a Tom Owens, since shown to be a complete hack in about two dozen ways.

    I am sure he is representative of most expert witlesses.

    But he is testament to why juries should be informed of jury nullification.

  5. Anon, my money is also on Otteray Scribe. Furthermore, the defense lawyer who will be defending Zimmerman IF there is a trial has a serious issue to deal with in that it is going to be pretty easy to show that Zimmerman’s credibility can be very badly challenged on many issues concerning what he has told the police, and they have recorded, already. The voice experts may not be your favorite voice experts but from what they have done so far, the very MOST that can be said about who cried for help is that there is PLENTY OF DOUBT and if there is a battle of experts on that count, there will be enough expertise on the prosecution side to make the defense side doubtful. So ultimately, the doubt that will apply to the story of “self-defense” is the defense’s biggest problem, because two out of three of the elements for conviction are already on record: Zimmerman did in fact kill the victim; and Zimmerman did in fact show animus toward the victim (“These assholes always get away”) before the killing.

    About Otteray Scribe describing his own expertise, he won’t be testifying in the Zimmerman case and he won’t be a juror on the case either, so attacks on his credentials are not relevant.

  6. I’ve been thinking about this case all morning and I think a ruling of harmless error would not serve justice given the juror’s express intent to violate the directive of the court even though technically speaking harmless error could/would otherwise apply absent said juror intent.

    New trial.

  7. 12 Angry Men. Good movie. Excellent actors that all continued to have great careers making many more good movies.

  8. He’ll probably get a new trial.

    In Florida, the harmless error test doesn’t look at how overwhelming the other evidence of guilt may have been. Instead, the court has to determine if the improper evidence contributed to the verdict in any way. The State must show beyond a reasonable doubt that it did not affect the verdict:

    Harmless error analysis must not become a device whereby the appellate court substitutes itself for the jury, examines the permissible evidence, excludes the impermissible evidence, and determines that the evidence of guilt is sufficient or even overwhelming based on the permissible evidence.

    The harmless error test places the burden on the state, as the beneficiary of the error, to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the error complained of did not contribute to the verdict or, alternatively stated, that there is no reasonable possibility that the error contributed to the conviction. Application of the test requires not only a close examination of the permissible evidence on which the jury could have legitimately relied, but an even closer examination of the impermissible evidence which might have possibly influenced the jury verdict.

    The test is not a sufficiency-of-the-evidence, a correct result, a not clearly wrong, a substantial evidence, a more probable than not, a clear and convincing, or even an overwhelming evidence test. Harmless error is not a device for the appellate court to substitute itself for the trier-of-fact by simply weighing the evidence. The focus is on the effect of the error on the trier-of-fact. The question is whether there is a reasonable possibility that the error affected the verdict. If the appellate court cannot say beyond a reasonable doubt that the error did not affect the verdict, then the error is by definition harmful.

    Ventura v. State, 29 So.3d 1086, at 1089-90 (Fla. 2010).

    Even more relevant to this case:

    The simple answer to the simple question of whether there is competent, substantial evidence to support the charges that Rigterink committed these crimes is “Yes.” However, the actual question that we must ask – and the constitutional protection that we must address – are not so simple. We have specifically rejected sufficiency-of-the-evidence approaches through our decision in DiGuilio, and we will not recede from established precedent by, on the one hand, paying lip service to its requirements and then, on the other, employing reasoning that would be clearly contrary to the pertinent legal standard.

    The murders committed in this case were horrific, gruesome, and worthy of condemnation; moreover, there is evidence to support the verdicts returned by the jury. However, the rule of law must prevail and we must not allow the ends of punishment to trump the means that our state and federal Constitutions require.

    The test is not whether the jury reached what we believe to be the correct result but is, instead, whether a reasonable possibility exists that the constitutional violation contributed to the defendant’s convictions.

    Rigternik v. State, 2 So.3d 221, at 255-57 (Fla. 2009).

    The juror in the Goodman case wrote that his drinking experiment helped him make up his mind that the defendant was guilty. In other words, it affected the verdict.

  9. “My money is on OS!”

    I gather you’re a lawyer, and so I would expect nothing less. What you are saying is that as a member of a corrupt industry, you support the industry.

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
    Upton Sinclair”

    and of course you can substitute legal and psychology for military and arms industry in this one…

    A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

    Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

    Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

    This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

    In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

    We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

    But lawyers and especially judges with any guts are honest enough to acknowledge most of the expert psychologists in their courts are frauds and put on for show.

  10. I think a new trial might be necessary, but I doubt the verdict will change.
    since you brought it up. My money is on OS!

  11. The judgment seems a little excessive….. I think further that since the juror stated he had doubts before the experiment it is not harmless error….. But if in a civil trial in Florida if a unanimous verdict is not mandatory….. Then it may be treated as such…..

  12. “For the reason stated by Frankly, I seriously doubt that the experiment impacted the verdict in any meaningful way; however, there should be a new trial with all costs to borne by the errant juror.”

    What the guy did should not be labeled “an experiment”. It was not a scientific experiment and there is no scientific way to draw much of a conclusion from it.

    Verdicts should not be based on one night’s bender.

    In this case the juror’s experience comports to what we as society believe should have happened, so we are okay with depriving the asshole Goodman his due process.

    But it could have gone the other way. If the juror was a bigger man, had eaten plenty of food, had kept himself hydrated, had plenty of sleep and woken up at the proper time in his REM cycle, he may have thought differently.

    Perhaps the right thing to do is to offer all of the jurors who are interested the chance had participating in a controlled experiment. Take half of them and get them shitfaced under the same conditions as Goodman. Then take all of them and have them participate in coordination and driving exercises.

    Non-interested jurors can do what juries normally do, listen to the experts and the frauds.

  13. I don’t know if this verdict should stand or not.

    I do know I’d rather have juror experiments than frauds like Otteray Scribe who constantly boasts at this forum how he is an expert witness at anything and everything and who will seriously defend automatic scream identification even though actual experts in voice identification state how that is not possible.

    Juries should have jury nullification explained to them, and courts and attorneys should stop their practice of tossing out jurors with science, engineering, medical backgrounds.

  14. If the Court concludes this actually happened and declares a mistrial, the Court should also hold the Juror in contempt of court. As punishment? Make the bad juror come back and sit through the second trial all the way from Jury selection through the final second Verdict, and Order the bad juror not to publish anything about it. Jury misconduct is becoming more prevalent. Jurors are tweeting away, publishing on facebook, researching on Wikipedia, etc. The cost to society of this bad conduct is enormous. How else can the Court make sure Jurors will follow its instructions?

  15. For the reason stated by Frankly, I seriously doubt that the experiment impacted the verdict in any meaningful way; however, there should be a new trial with all costs to borne by the errant juror.

    Why? Appearances are important in making sure the public maintains respect for the decisions of courts, especicially given recent S. Ct. actions. However, given recent S. Ct. actions, I doubt there will be a new trial.

  16. It is a close call. If a new trial is ordered, perhaps the judge should sanction the errant juror by seizing all income from the book and applying it to the cost of a new trial. The publicity might engender sales.

    At any rate, the Fonda movie was good drama but it may have mislead folks like the wannabe Fonda.

  17. Yes, I do. That jurors opinion was based on his own alcohol tolerance as well, which we all know can very widely. He clearly stated he had doubt prior to his experiment.

  18. that should be “good swift boot” cosmic muffins, hairy thunderers or pates of pasta have nothing to do with it.

  19. No, if this juror had not experienced 3 drinks in one evening before in his life my guess is plenty of the others had.

    This juror, however, deserves a god swift boot to the head. Well two actually, one for directly disobeying an order from the judge and a second, harder, one for running around bragging about it.

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