Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal recently denied Wellington polo magnate John Goodman’s motion for a rehearing in his DUI manslaughter case. However, the court did submit several questions “of great importance” to the Florida Supreme Court.
In Goodman v. Florida, Goodman asked the court to rehear his evidence regarding the testing of his blood following a fatal accident in 2010 that killed 23-year-old recent college graduate Scott Patrick Wilson. Goodman allegedly was drunk at the time of the collision and reportedly left the scene of the crash without calling emergency services. Wilson’s vehicle was later found overturned in a canal, where he drowned.
Goodman had been convicted two years later of DUI manslaughter and failure to remain at the scene of the crash. However, that conviction was later tossed due to juror misconduct and the case retried. Goodman testified he wasn’t drunk, and insists his vehicle malfunctioned and that was the cause of the crash. This was despite the fact that his blood-alcohol level was reportedly more than twice the legal limit some three hours after the crash, according to the testing that was done on his blood. He was ultimately convicted again, sentenced to 16 years in prison and fined $10,000.
However, what Goodman is now doing is appealing the way in which the blood-alcohol evidence was collected in his case. He first filed his appeal in February of this year. Among the points raised by Goodman’s legal counsel in that appeal:
- The state made a significant error in releasing Goodman’s vehicle to the insurance company shortly after the first trial. This, they say, deprived him of a key defense – the opportunity to prove his assertion that the vehicle had malfunctioned. Defense lawyers called this move, “reckless” and “premature.”
- The judge erred in allowing the jury to hear evidence about the kinds of drinks Goodman’s companions were consuming, liquor-heavy beverages and shots with names like, “Irish car bombs” and “Mind Erasers.” No one asserted Goodman himself was consuming these beverages, so the evidence was prejudicial.
- The judge erred in allowing prosecutors to assert that Goodman had written the word, “heavy” when asked about his alcohol consumption. The word – whatever it was – was scratched out at some point and was indecipherable, defense lawyers argued.
- The judge erred in admitting evidence of Goodman’s blood-alcohol level where the testing conducted was done without a warrant and further, the actual test was flawed.
In May, the 4th DCA rejected his arguments by appeal – including the argument on the blood testing failures. Although the justices still refused a rehearing, they did agree to certify to the state supreme court the following questions:
- Whether the current rules of the Florida Department Law Enforcement for blood testing procedures and homogenization processes to “cure” clotted blood samples are inadequate under Florida v. Miles (a 2000 case) for allegedly failing to properly regulate correct blood draws?
- Whether the current rules are similarly inadequate to regulate the work of analysts in screening blood samples, keeping track of irregularities and rejecting samples that are unfit?
These issues were the most scientifically complicated elements of the 52-year-old’s second DUI manslaughter case, with criminal defense lawyers arguing that because these tests were flawed, jurors should not have been told Goodman’s BAC was 0.117 percent.
If the Florida Supreme Court does not decide these issues in Goodman’s favor, it’s unlikely he’ll be released before December 2029.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Goodman v. Florida, Aug. 24, 2016, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal
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Trio Arrested for Illegal Racing in Pembroke Pines, May 2, 2016, Fort Lauderdale DUI Defense Lawyer Blog