On the day a Wellington polo mogul was supposed to be sentenced for his role in a drunken driving crash that killed a 23-year-old recent college graduate, John Goodman instead sat in the courtroom as the judge questioned jurors about whether his wealth played a role in their guilty verdict.
Goodman was convicted of DUI manslaughter in March. The founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach was drunk when his Bentley slammed into Scott Wilson’s car in February 2010. The collision sent Wilson into a canal, where he drowned.
Judge Jeffrey Colbath’s questions were answered unremarkably until a juror in his late 50s was summoned back to the courtroom.
“I thought that, you know, these people like kind of had their minds made up,” the juror said.
Colbath then asked the juror to clarify his statement to make sure they didn’t discuss this during deliberations. The juror said he felt other jurors “pretty much” made up their minds about Goodman, but it was prior to deliberations.
The juror also said he felt pushed into the guilty verdict, one with which he never agreed.
“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 said.
Goodman’s attorney said this development proved what he argued all along — that there was too much notoriety about the high-profile case for his client to receive a fair trial in Palm Beach County.
“The court did not follow our request to ask open-ended questions of the jurors whether or not anything untoward happened during the trial,” attorney Roy Black said. “I think a number of jurors tried to explain that to the court, but unfortunately they were not given the opportunity to do so.”
However, lead prosecutor Ellen Roberts said she doesn’t believe the juror’s revelations will undo the verdict.