In the ongoing Palm Beach County DUI manslaughter case of Goodman v. State, the first of three days of hearings began today. Goodman’s retrial regarding the highly publicized 2010 Wellington crash that resulted in Scott Patrick Wilson’s death is scheduled to begin on October 6, 2014.
Previously, Chief Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath had ordered that jurors will be taken from out of town and brought to Palm Beach County for the retrial, in an attempt to avoid an unfair trial due to the publicity this case has received. Defense attorneys argued this morning a renewed motion to have the whole trial moved to a different town, instead of shipping out-of-town jurors to Palm Beach. Defense attorneys for Goodman argued that the cost to bring in out-of-town jurors would not only be exorbitant, but that jurors sequestered from out of town are historically more likely to convict a defendant as a result of their anger at being away from their homes for extended periods of time. Judge Colbath denied this request. In his ruling, the judge did express concerns regarding the expenses of the jury sequestration, discussing that it cost $33,000 to sequester George Zimmerman’s jury and approximately $187,0000 to sequester Casey Anthony’s jury. However, it would be expensive to sequester a jury picked within the confines of Palm Beach, as well.
Judge Colbath is expected later today to rule as to whether potential jurors will be from Jacksonville or Tampa. Jury selection will take place in one of the cities, and after selection is completed, six jurors and up to four alternates will be brought back to Palm Beach County. The selected jurors will be sequestered for the entire trial, which is expected to last nearly one month.
More hearings are scheduled to take place tomorrow and Wednesday on various issues, including: Goodman’s vehicle, which was released by prosecutors as evidence, the validity of Goodman’s blood alcohol test, and the testimony of a Wellington bartender.
Casey Reiter is an associate attorney at Stuart R. Manoff & Associates, P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida, practicing in the areas of Criminal Defense and Marital Law.