John Goodman is again asking for a new trial -- this time because a juror, who wrote a book about his experiences, conducted a drinking experiment outside the courtroom during the trial to see how he reacted to consuming three alcoholic drinks, the number of drinks witnesses reported seeing Goodman consume on the night of the crash. Juror Dennis DeMartin told the Palm Beach Post that his experiment wasn't a big factor in his deciding that Goodman was guilty. He said it had nothing to do with the case, he just wanted to see how it felt.
But defense attorneys are now using this information to once again seek a new trial and Judge Colbath has ordered that DeMartin will be questioned on Friday, May 11th. Unlike his fellow juror, St. John, DeMartin's conduct took place during the actual trial. Colbath already ruled that St. John's statements, after the trial, that he doubted the verdict, were insufficient to warrant a new trial. In his order denying the new trial based upon St. John's statement, Colbath wrote, "To allow such decisions to be attacked months or even years after the close of a case simply because a juror experiences post-verdict regret would open our trial system to a virtual onslaught of attacks from dissatisfied parties and jurors."
But DeMartin's "experiment" took place during the trial, actually, the night before deliberations. And although he now says that his conduct didn't play a large role in his determination of guilt, the fact that it played any role at all could very well gain Goodman a new trial.
DeMartin explained to the Post that he didn't know what he was doing wasn't allowed. However, the preliminary instructions, which are read at the start of every criminal trial in Florida, include the following language:
"[I]f you investigate, research or make inquiries on your own outside of the courtroom, the trial judge has no way to assure they are proper and relevant to the case. The parties likewise have no opportunity to dispute the accuracy of what you find or to provide rebuttal evidence to it. That is contrary to our judicial system, which assures every party the right to ask questions about and rebut the evidence being considered against it and to present argument with respect to that evidence. Non-court inquiries and investigations unfairly and improperly prevent the parties from having that opportunity our judicial system promises. If you become aware of any violation of these instructions or any other instruction I give in this case, you must tell me by giving a note to the bailiff."
This would have been read to DeMartin and the other jurors before the trial even began. Time will tell if Colbath grants Goodman a new trial based upon this new information. If not, it will likely be appealed by defense attorneys after Goodman is sentenced.