John Goodman, the owner of the Wellington Polo Club who was convicted of DUI Manslaughter last year and sentenced to 16 years in prison may get a new trial.
Goodman, who is out of custody on a $7 million appellate bond and under house arrest, may get a new trial on the grounds that a juror deliberately withheld information that if revealed during jury selection would have prevented his being seated on the panel.
Goodman's criminal defense attorneys have been attacking various aspects of the trial in an effort to get a new trial. However, the most successful attack looks like it will be based on the fact that a juror withheld the fact that his ex-wife had been arrested and prosecuted for DUI several years ago.
During jury selection, the defense asked prospective jurors whether anybody they knew had ever been the victim of a crime or had been arrested in the past. The juror in question said nothing.
It was also determined that members of this juror's family had been the victims of a home-invasion robbery several years ago.
Taken together - the fact that this juror's ex-wife was prosecuted for DUI and his family members had been victims of a violent crime - it is very likely, if not a certainty, that the defense would have stricken this juror and he never would have been seated.
As a trial lawyer, you never want to seat a juror whose ability to be impartial may be tainted due to previous bad experiences with the justice system.
This juror is a self-published author who wrote a book about his experience as a juror in this trial. The defense believes that this juror wanted to be seated on the panel so that he could use his experience to further his writing career.
If the juror deliberately withheld information about his family's past experiences with the criminal justice system, then a new trial is in order.
However, the defense must prove to the court that the juror deliberately withheld the information and that his failure to disclose the information was simply a mistake.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade and Broward.