Trials & Litigation

Appeals court orders bail for 70-year-old former juror jailed for 6 months in contempt case

A 70-year-old Florida man who has spent more than a month in jail after being sentenced to nearly six months for contempt over his jury service in a high-profile drunken-driving and manslaughter case may not be there much longer.

A state appeals court Monday ordered that Dennis DeMartin be allowed to bail himself out while his appeal is pending, and a lawyer who formerly represented him says he hopes to be out from behind bars by the end of the day, the Sun Sentinel reports. The 4th District Court of Appeal apparently was persuaded by an argument by Assistant Public Defender Paul Petillo that DeMartin otherwise will have served his entire sentence by the time the appeal is decided on its merits, rendering it largely meaningless.

Bail has been set at a total of $7,500 on two criminal contempt convictions for DeMartin. He was found guilty in January of lying by failing to disclose his ex-wife’s drunken-driving arrest during jury selection in the Palm Beach County case against John Goodman. He was also found guilty because he conducted a vodka-drinking test at home to try to assess Goodman’s impairment at the outset of deliberations in the case.

Chief Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath had refused on Friday to grant bail, although he set it in anticipation of the appellate court ruling, citing the mistrial that resulted from DeMartin’s conduct. It negated a guilty verdict against Goodman, who received a 16-year prison sentence before his conviction was reversed over juror misconduct.

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