Dennis DeMartin, the juror whose misconduct recently won Wellington polo mogul John Goodman a new DUI manslaughter trial, just scored free representation from two local attorneys as he fights criminal contempt charges.
Today, Longtime criminal defense attorney Robert Gershman, who last year ran for state attorney, and defense attorney Joseph Walsh filed notice in court that they would be representing DeMartin on charges that he lied his way onto the jury in Goodman’s March 2012 trial.
DeMartin, 69, told The Palm Beach Post in an email Saturday that he didn’t have enough money to hire a lawyer to help him show Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath why he should not be held in contempt of court for failing to disclose during jury selection in Goodman’s trial that his ex-wife had once been arrested for DUI.
Colbath, because of the omission, overturned Goodman’s conviction and 16-year prison sentence in the death of Scott Patrick Wilson, who drowned in February 2010 after a crash with Goodman’s Bentley pushed Wilson’s car into a Wellington canal.
Now, as Goodman’s case heads for a new trial and DeMartin himself faces criminal charges, both Gershman and Walsh this afternoon confirmed that they have agreed to represent the retired Delray Beach accountant for free.
Though Goodman’s attorney, Roy Black, called DeMartin “a defense attorney’s worst nightmare” last week, Gershman today said he decided to contact DeMartin after reading that he needed a lawyer. Gershman said he wanted to make sure DeMartin received fair treatment in the same legal system he’s accused of violating.
“It’s important not to lose sight that he deserves this process,” Gershman said. “The community should wait to judge instead of just vilifying him.”
Most of DeMartin’s troubles as a juror have stemmed from the three self-published books he’s written since the Goodman trial — including one called “Believing n the Truth,” which contained details of a drinking experiment he conducted the night before he and other jurors began deliberations in Goodman’s case. Jurors are expressly forbidden from conducting their own experiments or research in a case.
His ex-wife’s DUI came out in the pages of his latest book, “Will She Kiss Me or Kill Me,” a chronicle of his relationship with a bi-polar woman.
Since the trial, Goodman’s defense team has cited about a half dozen instances where DeMartin has run afoul of Colbath’s court orders. But DeMartin has attributed most of his missteps to memory problems caused by a pair of strokes he suffered in 1975 and 1988.
And as for his financial situation, DeMartin in a hearing last month, told Colbath that he has made $322 from his book sales on Amazon.com. Gershman said of that amount, DeMartin’s profits were a little more than $100.
Gershman said he met with DeMartin at his Delray Beach home on Sunday morning, where he found DeMartin dressed in a shirt and tie with plans to usher at his local church later that morning.
After meeting with him, Gershman said he believes there is evidence, medical and otherwise, to explain DeMartin’s actions. Gershman and Walsh, who in an interview with the Post two weeks ago said he didn’t believe DeMartin would spend a day in jail, say they are now preparing a vigorous defense on several fronts.
Gershman described DeMartin as a well-intentioned man who is apparently terrified at the prospect of facing the contempt charges, which carry a possible six month jail sentence.
“He’s nervous about it, for sure,” Gershman said. “To have traveled this far in life and now be facing this, it’s scary for him.”