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Florida Supreme Court rejects Goodman appeal in DUI manslaughter case


The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected Wellington polo mogul John Goodman’s claims that his DUI manslaughter conviction was tainted because of flaws in the way his blood was collected after the February 2010 crash that killed 23-year-old Scott Wilson.

In a 35-page opinion, the high court ruled that Goodman’s scientifically and legally complex arguments weren’t sufficient to raise questions about his conviction and 16-year prison sentence. The decision was unanimous with Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, a former Palm Beach County circuit judge, electing not to participate in the case.

RELATED: More Post stories about John Goodman’s DUI case

Goodman, 54, challenged rules established by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concerning how blood is drawn from suspected drunk drivers. In upholding the procedures, the high court blocked yet another of several avenues Goodman has tried to use to win a new trial.

The case took an unusual route to the state’s highest court. While the West Palm Beach-based 4th District Court of Appeal had already rejected Goodman’s claims, it later asked the state Supreme Court to decide if FDLE’s blood collection rules were adequate to ensure results are accurate in tens of thousands of tests collected around the state each year.

Goodman claimed the use of a smaller-diameter needle to draw his blood and lax procedures at a lab falsely elevated his blood-alcohol level to 0.177 percent — more than twice the level at which Florida drivers are by law considered impaired.

Justices ruled that the procedures dictated by the state law enforcement agency include sufficient safeguards. Even Goodman’s own expert testified that “bad samples” were rare, they wrote. Further, they said, rules have to be sufficiently flexible to address changing medical technology.

“Although it may be preferable for FDLE to promulgate a rule that specifically lays out every minute detail of a test, this court is not positioned to make that determination,” it wrote. Quoting another court decision, justices added: “Further, such an exercise ‘would swiftly devolve into a hopeless endeavor and serve only to expand [FDLE’s] regulations to epic lengths.’”

The appeal is one of several Goodman has launched since 2014, when he was convicted for a second time in the Wellington crash that pushed Wilson’s car into a canal where the recent engineering graduate drowned. As part of his DUI manslaughter conviction, both juries also agreed Goodman failed to render aid. A second trial became necessary after Goodman’s first conviction was thrown out due to jury misconduct.

In a separate appeal filed this month, the millionaire is asking the high court to overturn a July decision by the 4th District Court of Appeal. His attorneys claim the appeals court erred by rejecting various claims, including that Goodman’s punishment was wrongly enhanced for failing to render aid because he contends he didn’t know he had driven into Wilson’s car.

During both trials, the heir to a Texas heating and air conditioning fortune claimed his Bentley malfunctioned as he was driving home from The Player’s Club, a Wellington equestrian hangout. The car inexplicably surged through an intersection, striking Wilson’s Hyundai, shoving it into a canal, he argued.

But, Goodman insisted, he didn’t know what he’d hit. Frantic, he claimed, he ran to a nearby friend’s home where he chugged liquor to calm his nerves and ease his pain.

As Goodman’s appeal continues, he remains at the Wakulla Correctional Institution, south of Tallahassee. His expected release date is June 17, 2029, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.



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