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Juror claims stroke amnesia, not misconduct, in DUI death case

Last March, a Palm Beach County jury found the millionaire-industrialist and founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington guilty of DUI manslaughter. In May, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison for an alleged hit-and-run collided with a 23-year-old man in Wellington which caused the victim's car to flip into a canal, where he drowned. The polo magnate was believed to have been driving drunk.

New questions have arisen about the fairness of that trial. One juror, a 68-year-old man from Delray Beach is accused of misconduct. When asked before trial whether he had any close friends or family members with drunk driving convictions, he indicated he did not. Later, however, he published a book about his experiences on the jury which revealed that his ex-wife had indeed been arrested for DUI, and he and she had reunited prior to the trial.

Perhaps more troubling than the allegation that he lied in that pre-trial question, the book also describes a drinking experiment the man performed on his own initiative during jury deliberations that was meant to test how impaired the polo magnate might have been during the fatal accident. Such an experiment might in itself constitute illegal jury misconduct.

On April 1, the juror sent a letter to the Circuit Court judge to explain his side of the story. "If you check the trial transcript," he wrote. "I answered the question when asked, I said I had not had any experiences that I recall." It is possible he did not recall -- he says his ex-wife's DUI arrest "was blocked out of my memory since a stroke I had around 1988."

According to the polo magnate's defense attorney, "jurors were specifically asked whether 'anyone in the panel themselves, close friend or family member or someone that affects you, has ever been arrested, charged or convicted or accused of a crime.'"

This juror responded: "I'm even trying to think of family. I don't think any of my family had any problems."

According to the defense motion, the "motivation for his lie" was that he planned to write a potentially lucrative book about his jury experience. "We respectfully submit that [he] deliberately withheld the information about his ex-wife."

Hearings have been scheduled for April 24 and 29. The polo magnate is being held in house arrest on a $7 million bond pending appeal.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Goodman juror: I didn't lie when lawyer asked question," Marc Freeman, April 10, 2013

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