Some further developments in the case of John Goodman, the billionaire Houston / Palm Beach polo patron who was involved in a fatal Bentley accident last week...
While Miami's rich drug-trafficking milieu has provided him with more than a few clients, he has also defended the likes of accused rapist William Kennedy Smith, accused sodomite Marv Albert, and OxyContin-poppin' Rush Limbaugh. Black also defended Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis on charges of first-degree douchebaggery. (Okay we just made that charge up. It was only second-degree douchebaggery.)
Black is also notable for TV appearances on several NBC news shows and for his role as "the managing partner" on the short-lived lawyer-based Apprentice-based reality show The Law Firm.
And oh yeah, Black's wife, Lisa Lea Haller, was a juror on the William Kennedy Smith trial. The two are said to have only met and started dating months after the trial ended.
Some believe that both the State of Florida and the Palm Beach County law enforcement apparatus is scared of taking on a mensch like Black. Former Florida prosecutor Paula Russell is one such.
"When it comes to rich or famous defendants, the facts speak for themselves," Russell tells the Palm Beach Post. "I believe that the state attorney's office over the years has given significant breaks to people with a lot of money. Is it political or psychological? Are prosecutors in a panic when Roy Black shows up? I don't know. But the facts are there."
Some are saying that in staying out of jail and avoiding charges thus far, Goodman has already gotten kid-glove treatment from the cops. Russell is not among them.
"They won't admit it, of course," says Russell, "but when deputies saw a Bentley, they told themselves they'd better dot every i and cross every t. That's human nature."
Local defense attorney and former Harris County Assistant DA Murray Newman tells Hair Balls that Goodman's treatment is not that unusual.
"If there were enough additional factors to give the cops probable cause to believe that the driver was intoxicated then they might go ahead and file charges," he says. "In many cases, the driver/drunk driver might be incapacitated and unable to do field sobriety tests or anything that might give a clue as to intoxication. If all you have is the results of the blood test, it may take a bit to analyze. I've seen it done both ways before."
Lastly, we looked up Goodman's second home and the accident site -- Wellington, Florida -- on Wikipedia, and it seems quite a place. It's a very horsey town; a little slice of Kentucky's opulent bluegrass country plopped in sticky South Florida.
Among Goodman's neighbors in his winter hometown of Wellington, Florida: Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Michael Bloomberg, Glenn Close, Vanilla Ice, some Roosevelts, various St. Louis Busches, and numerous Fortune 500 CEOs. Tommy Lee Jones (described as a friend of Goodman) and Houston's socially and politically prominent Farish family -- dedicated lovers of all things equine and co-founders of our local polo club -- also have spreads there.
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