The literary career of Dennis DeMartin is looking bright.
DeMartin, the 69-year-old retired accountant from Delray Beach, may be the only person in America to take a stab at a new writing career while concurrently serving as a juror in the high-stakes DUI manslaughter case against Wellington polo mogul John Goodman.
Most participants in trials who decide to write about their experiences do so long after the fact. But DeMartin started his self-publishing endeavors during the case, and continued it while the the appeals process was ripe.
And by doing so, he created a new genre, hastily published, unedited, thin books that might best be described as “mistrial lit.”
DeMartin and the other five jurors in the Goodman case rendered a guilty verdict, but DeMartin’s moonlighting efforts proved to be must-reading for lawyers looking for grounds to demonstrate that the billionaire didn’t get a fair trial.
And on that score, these books were five-star triumphs.
Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath granted Goodman a new trial this month. And DeMartin found himself a criminal defendant, facing a contempt of-court charge for failing to to disclose a DUI arrest of an ex-wife, a disclosure he only made in print in his latest book, “Will She Kiss Me or Kill Me?”
Prosecutors also want to add another contempt-of-court charge against DeMartin for a rogue drinking experiment he performed on himself during the trial, something DeMartin only disclosed in his previous book, “Believing in the Truth.”
For most people, getting dragged to court is bad news.
But for DeMartin, it opens up a whole new vein of literary opportunities.
His notoriety has landed him lawyers who are willing to represent him without charge. And due to his meager financial resources, taxpayers are potentially on the hook to provide him any additional legal expenses in the misdemeanor case.
This is the best of all worlds. Let’s face it, DeMartin needed something new to write about. No sense continuing to write about the Goodman case. DeMartin already has served his function there, and continuing to make mistrial-worthy musings about the Goodman case would almost be a yawner at this point.
He needed some new trial to screw up. And now he’s got it.
He can churn out books about his own trial.
“The Trials and Tribulations of a Senior Citizen Trying to Get a Court Date Without a Car” could reprise his ruminations on being a transportation-challenged retiree looking to meet women, except this time as a criminal defendant.
And that could be followed by “The Jury of My Peers,” a book that makes the case that his guilt or innocence should be decided only by other enterprising retirees with faulty memories, a flair for secrecy and a willingness to ignore any or all jury instructions.
If DeMartin’s lucky, he will have do to some time in the Palm Beach County Jail, which could provide the fodder for the next book in his contempt-of-court trilogy: “Will He Kiss Me or Kill Me?”
I suspect that prosecutors will go after DeMartin with vigor. After all, his literary efforts proved to be a costly misadventure for the criminal justice system, and more effective than springing Goodman than the billionaire’s preposterous kitchen-sink defense.
But prosecuting DeMartin won’t really be punishing him.
It will just be giving him another trial about which to write.