John Goodman Needs an Alcohol Class and More

by: Mike Miller

Does the name John Goodman sound familiar to you? Who comes to mind? The person I am speaking about is relatively famous. Of course we are talking about the mogul John Goodman.

He is the polo mogul accused of manslaughter DUI in Florida according to the Orlando Sentinel. His attorney, Roy Black repeatedly quizzed prospective jurors on their attitudes about drinking and then driving immediately afterward, whether they had heard of a car malfunctioning while being driven and made reference to "sudden acceleration in cars."

Get to the Issues Already!!!

Black also asked jurors about "temporary amnesia" and if they ever had suffered a concussion and, afterward, did not know what they were doing.

"What if you have a couple of drinks right before you drive and you're not impaired or above the lawful limit," Black asked one prospective juror.

A number of prospective jurors agreed that it was not illegal for them to drive after a few drinks if they were not impaired or above the legal blood-alcohol limit of .08 percent.

Black also asked if anyone would call a loved one after an emergency rather than call 911.

All of those questions reflected on aspects of the Goodman case.

The Real Issue

Prosecutors say Goodman, 48, was driving his Bentley convertible at 63 mph and ran a stop sign, smashing into a Hyundai driven by Scott Wilson, 23, who was on his way home from Orlando to visit family.

The crash happened around 1 a.m. Feb. 12, 2010. Prosecutors allege that in the hours before the crash Goodman — the founder of Polo Club International Palm Beach — had been drinking at two Wellington watering holes that cater to the polo community.

The impact flipped Wilson's car upside down into a canal and he drowned. Goodman was charged with DUI-manslaughter and vehicular homicide while failing to render aid. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

After the crash, Goodman left the scene. He ended up at a nearby trailer, where he used a woman's cell phone to call his girlfriend in Atlanta before calling 911, about an hour after a passerby first reported the crash.

Three hours after the crash, Goodman's blood-alcohol level was measured at .177 percent, more than twice the legal limit to drive.

In his questions, Black suggested that Goodman may only have had a few drinks before the crash. The defense has a blood-alcohol expert who could testify that Goodman's blood-alcohol level was on the rise in the hours following the crash. Could it be he was still drinking?

Black's questions also suggest one defense for Goodman may be that he suffered a concussion in the crash and did not have his wits about him afterward. Black also asked if jurors ever had suffered "temporary amnesia."

Several prospective jurors said they were familiar with media coverage of that case, including recent reports concerning Goodman's adoption of his 42-year-old girlfriend, making her a beneficiary of a $300 million trust for his two minor children. This is the first time I ever have heard of a man adopting his girlfriend.

What a cock-and-bull story. The guy was drunk and killed someone. Is it murder? Maybe. Is it manslaughter? Definitely.

Hopefully the continual push toward alcohol education with more classes both in-class and online alcohol classes will prevent future drivers from getting behind the wheel after they have had too much to drink.