Updated at 5:05 p.m. ET: A Florida judge denied defense requests Monday to toss out the manslaughter conviction of John Goodman, the millionaire founder of the International Polo Club, because a juror later said he doubted Goodman's guilt. A separate ruling awaits on a second juror's admission that he had conducted an at-home drinking experiment during the trial.
Goodman was convicted in March of DUI manslaughter for driving his Bentley through a stop sign while intoxicated in February 2010 in Wellington, Fla. He smashed into a car driven by 23-year-old Scott Wilson, flipping the car into a canal, where Wilson drowned.
The case drew national attention after Goodman adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend to protect his fortune.
Full coverage of the John Goodman trial
Goodman's attorneys, led by Roy Black — best known for successfully defending William Kennedy Smith against rape charges — have filed several motions seeking a new trial for Goodman or even to throw our his conviction. Judge Jeffrey Colbath ruled Monday on one of them, declaring that juror Michael St. John wasn't "credible" when he said he had felt pressured to convict Goodman before deliberations began and believed that Goodman was actually not guilty.
There was no word on when or whether Colbath would rule on a separate challenge to the conviction, which Black filed last week after a second juror, Dennis DeMartin, self-published a 32-page book titled "Believing In The Truth," in which he writes that he drank three vodka tonics the night before deliberations to recreate Goodman's level of intoxication.
"I wasn't drunk the next morning when I made my decision. I'll tell you that, I was fine," DeMartin said.
That constitutes jury misconduct, Black argued in court documents, accusing DeMartin of having admitted that "he violated his oath as a juror and direct instructions from the court to not engage in extrajudicial experiments and investigations."
"What began as a snowball has now become an avalanche," Black wrote, referring to the jury misconduct allegations.
Legal experts said Black has a good case.
"If we now have a juror doing exactly what was alleged during the trial, that crosses the line," said Michael Salnick, a criminal defense attorney in West Palm Beach, Fla. "It's outrageous. It shocks the conscience and goes against everything the jury system stands for."
Gregg Lerman, another West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney, voiced similar views.
"Jurors are not supposed to go home and conduct any experiments," he said. "You're suppose to base your decision on evidence you hear at the trial, not outside influences."
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