A 21-year-old man was sentenced to 10 ‘traumatic’ days in jail because he overslept and missed his first jury duty assignment.
Deandre Somerville, of West Palm Beach, Florida, was chosen to serve as a juror for a civil automobile accident negligence case on August 20 and was supposed to return to Florida’s 15th judicial circuit court the following day at 9am for trial.
But he overslept by at least two hours and failed to notify the court. Instead of going to the courthouse, he went to work.
Three weeks later police arrived to his home and he was ordered to attend a hearing where Judge John Kastrenakes found him in criminal contempt of the court and sentenced him to 10 days in jail, a year of probation, and a $223 fine on September 23.
‘I should have called,’ Somerville said to NBC. ‘But I was kind of nervous. I also went online to look up what could really happen, and I didn’t really see too much there… [It looked like] nobody actually ever really went to jail for it.’
Florida man Deandre Somerville, 21, was sentenced to 10 days in jail on September 23 because he overslept and missed his first day of jury duty on August 21 and failed to notify the court
Judge John Kastrenakes found him in criminal contempt of the court and sentenced him to 10 days in jail, a year of probation, and a $223 fine on September 23
‘For me it was like, dang, it was the first time I go to a courtroom and the second time I show up I get jail time,’ Somerville said on his sentence
In addition to jail time, Somerville was ordered to write an apology of no less than 100 words and serve 150 years of community service, which included reporting to the jury office once a week to have a 10-minute discussion on the importance of jury duty.
Somerville says his sentence and jail time was ‘traumatic’ and put a strain on his family. He had no prior criminal record.
‘When a juror is selected and sworn, the administration of justice in this courthouse depends on you following the orders of the court,’ Kastrenakes said according to court records.
On Friday Judge Kastrenakes voided his prior order of guilty, meaning Somerville’s criminal record has been cleared and reduced his probation to three months
In the hearing the judge chastised Somerville, saying the trial was delayed for almost an hour while the court waited for him to arrive and he was unreachable on his cellphone.
‘For me it was like, dang, it was the first time I go to a courtroom and the second time I show up I get jail time,’ Somerville said to Buzzfeed.
‘I feel like the punishment could have been probation or community service. Why did you have to throw me in jail? Because you assumed I was one way? It’s easy to throw someone in jail versus spending the time to really see someone and asking them how they work,’ he added.
He said upon hearing his sentence he worried about how it would effect his family.
‘A whole 10 days. It put a bind on my family. It neglected me from helping my family. When I am not working, I am helping maintain the house. I am taking my granddad to therapy. I am constantly going. It was hard. My granddad missed days of therapy when I was in jail,’ he added.
‘I never been to jail. I’m not made for jail. Jail’s not made for me,’ Somerville said Friday
On Friday he read his apology out to the court saying: ‘This was an immature decision that I made and I paid for with my freedom.’ Judge Kastrenakes then reduced his sentence
On Friday Judge Kastrenakes voided his prior order of guilty, meaning Somerville’s criminal record has been cleared – but he already spent time in jail.
The judge also reduced the probation to three months and community service to 30 hours.
‘I just use it as a lesson learned,’ Somerville told reporters from outside the courthouse on Friday. ‘I had to get punished. I should have came back. I take it as a learning experience.’
He says that although he regrets his actions, his jail sentence was ‘a little overdone’ and his time in Palm Beach County jail was ‘traumatic’.
‘I never been to jail. I’m not made for jail. Jail’s not made for me,’ he said to ABC.
‘Twenty-four hours in a day felt like 48-hours in a day. All I could do was think, being around criminals, now I am a criminal for doing something that’s not even a real criminal act,’ he added on his jail time.
Twenty-four hours in a day felt like 48-hours in a day. All I could do was think, being around criminals, now I am a criminal for doing something that’s not even a real criminal act,’ Somerville said on his arrest
Somerville pictured in black third from left surrounded by his supportive family on Thursday October 3
‘I had to tell myself, I am not a criminal. Those 10 days were long and traumatic days.’
Somervile says his probation sentence was also excessive.
‘I feel like I didn’t need any rehabilitation. I just made a mistake,’ he said.
On Friday he read a letter of apology out loud to the court.
‘This was an immature decision that I made and I paid for with my freedom,’ the letter said. ‘I am extremely sorry for my actions. I also sincerely apologize for delaying the trial by 45 minutes and not being considerate of other people’s time.’
‘I know I may have to live with a record that follows me for the rest of my life. This was definitely a learning experience and a wake-up call for me. … I’m determined to not let this define who I am and what my future will be.’