Dershowitz: Polo Magnate Juror Must Be Questioned Further

Friday, 04 May 2012 05:06 PM

By Martin Gould and Kathleen Walter

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More questions must be asked of the juror who has claimed he was pressured into finding Florida polo magnate John Goodman guilty of manslaughter, leading appeals attorney Alan Dershowitz tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.

Michael St. John claims that he felt “pushed into” voting for Goodman’s conviction at his trial in March and now wishes he had stood his ground.

"When I walked out there, I knew I should have just stuck by my guns, and it was hard for me to go with that decision," the juror told Judge Jeffrey Colbath on Monday, the day that Goodman was supposed to have been sentenced.

Watch our exclusive interview here. Story continues below video.

Some legal commentators have said that St. John’s statement should be disregarded as he may have been pressured after the case was completed, but Goodman’s defense attorney, Roy Black, says it proves the point he made earlier that Goodman could not receive a fair trial in Palm Beach County.

Now Harvard University law professor Dershowitz has stepped into the fray, saying the juror has to be questioned further about what happened, especially whether Goodman’s wealth played any part in the jury’s deliberations.

“We have to begin to question the juror extensively as to what he means by a pressure that was put on him,” Dershowitz said. “Was there a discussion of the wealth of the defendant in the jury room? Were there indications of prejudice on the part of the jurors?”

Dershowitz said if it turns out that it was only because St. John changed his mind after the case was over, the verdict should stand.

“But if he can produce hard information indicating that the juror process was in any way tainted or that he was pressured into voting a verdict that he didn’t really agree with, then a new trial might very well be warranted.”

Since the Dershowitz interview, more possible juror misconduct has been alleged. Juror Dennis DeMartin self-published a book on the trial in which he said he had gone home one night during the trial and had three vodka drinks – roughly the same amount that Goodman is alleged to have consumed – to see how he felt.

"It was bothering me that if there was proof that if Mr. Goodman only had three or four drinks, how drunk would he be? How drunk would I be. I decided to see," DeMartin wrote. He said it was enough to leave him confused and conclude that he would have been unfit to drive.

Goodman was convicted of DUI manslaughter in the February 2010 death of 23-year-old engineering graduate Scott Wilson. The court was told Goodman was drunk when his $200,000 Bentley slammed into Wilson’s Hyundai, pushing it into a canal where Wilson drowned.

The case gained national attention when Goodman, 48, adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend in what was interpreted as an attempt to prevent Wilson’s family from receiving millions in a wrongful death lawsuit. However last week he agreed to pay a total of $46 million to William and Lili Wilson.

Goodman is due in court on May 11 for sentencing. He faces up to 30 years in jail.

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