Dennis DeMartin, the juror whose misconduct won Wellington polo mogul John Goodman a new DUI manslaughter trial last month, will get at least $600 for a doctor to help him defend himself against contempt of court charges.
DeMartin did not attend a Thursday afternoon’s hearing where his two pro-bono lawyers tried unsuccessfully to get Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath to give them $5,000 to hire medical experts and others.
The attorneys want financial help for DeMartin to defend himself charges that he withheld his ex-wife’s prior DUI from the court during jury selection in Goodman’s 2012 trial.
That, along with a drinking experiment DeMartin conducted the night before he and five other jurors convicted Goodman, remains the basis for the contempt of court charges that could land the retired Delray Beach accountant in jail for up to six months. His defense is that memory lapses from two strokes he suffered caused him to forget the incident.
At the hearing Thursday, Colbath at first tried to change DeMartin’s charges from indirect to direct contempt of court — a move that would have greatly restricted DeMartin’s ability to call witnesses on his behalf.
But defense attorney Robert Gershman wondered aloud how Colbath could charge DeMartin with direct contempt while including the drinking experiment, which happened outside the court’s presence. Direct contempt of court charges are usually reserved for acts in court, Gershman said.
“It’s not like the jurors were sitting here taking shots in front of the judge,” Gershman said.
Colbath agreed with Gershman’s reasoning and decided to keep DeMartin’s charges as indirect contempt, giving him more room to prepare a defense.
Colbath also expects to file a new charging document in the case as early as today, putting in new details about the conduct that led him on May 3 to overturn Goodman’s conviction and 16-year prison sentence in the February 2010 death of Scott Patrick Wilson.