DUI Manslaughter in West Palm Beach Proving a Media Circus

leifertlaw March 10, 2012 DUI

In the midst of the high-profile trial of a polo mogul, who is slated to face a jury on charges of DUI manslaughter in West Palm Beach this week, defense attorneys are calling the entire affair “a circus.”

That’s because ever since the defendant was arrested, the media has been swarming, reporting every last detail of the case – as well as many other details that should have no bearing on the man’s guilt or innocence. Vehicular homicide charges are spelled out in news reports indicate the mogul has reached a settlement in the civil case the family had filed against him for wrongful death. The criminal trial, however, is pushing forward – with local media outlets casting heavy coverage on the case. Even the national media has shone their spotlight as well.

Unfortunately, it’s clear that some of what is being reported not only bears no relevance to the case, but is negatively influencing jurors. Ultimately, this could prevent him from receiving a fair trial.

The first issue that has come up repeatedly is the defendant’s wealth. One article in his native Houston described him as living the high life – clad in tuxedos and attending parties sprinkled with celebrities and paparazzi, taking vacations to exotic places. The writer even ended the description with the phrase: “All of it could be lost if prosecutors saddle Goodman with the one thing some in Palm Beach insist celebrities there typically escape: responsibility.”

Highly prejudicial, right?

Not to mention that in this era of “Occupy Wall Street,” there is certainly an air of mistrust between the average person and someone with a great deal of wealth. That, too, could hurt him in this case.

The other detail that media outlets have squeezed out on the brink of trial is that the defendant recently adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend, in an effort to grant her access to the trust fund that had originally been set up for his two minor children. While some may certainly find this odd or even distasteful, it has nothing to do with what happened on the night in question or whether or not he is guilty of DUI manslaughter. Yet, this detail has been widely reported.

There is even a website that has been created to detail every aspect of the case, and on which all public records related to the case is readily available with a few clicks. One potential juror said he had visited the site.

As one defense attorney stated, even the scene outside the courthouse could be enough to tip the scales. On the slim chance you could find someone who hadn’t heard of the case or read the reports in any detail, there are protestors outside the courthouse, chanting and holding signs urging the system to lock him up and throw away the key.

This is where the experience of a good criminal defense attorney is going to be important. Navigating such complex issues when someone’s freedom is on the line isn’t a simple task. If find yourself accused of a serious crime like DUI manslaughter, you need an attorney who is knowledgeable and willing to fight for you.

If you are arrested on DUI charges in West Palm Beach or elsewhere in South Florida, contact Leifert & Leifert at 954-523-9600 or 561-988-8000 for a free consultation.

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