A Florida juror is seeking reduced probation after serving 10 days in jail for essentially delaying a trial by 45 minutes.
According to West Palm Beach news station WPTV, Judge John Kastrenakes sentenced 21-year-old Deandre Somerville to 10 days in jail last month after Somerville woke up late for jury duty, and missed it.
Somerville, who previously had no criminal record, was released Sunday, and has a hearing scheduled for Friday, the Associated Press reported. He also is on probation for a year, must complete 150 hours of community service, and write a letter of apology, according to WPTV.
According to WPTV and AP, Somerville was sworn in as a juror on a civil case in August. He was supposed to return to jury duty the next day at 9 a.m., but he overslept, waking up around 11 or 11:30 a.m. It was almost time for work at his afternoon job, so he didn’t go to the courthouse, and didn’t call the balliff or the jury office.
“At work, I was looking on my phone thinking, ‘What’s the worst case scenario that could happen?’ I thought maybe I would get a fine or something like that,” Somerville told AP in a phone interview.
Somerville, who lives with his grandparents and helps take care of his grandfather, later received a court summons. According to WPTV, court transcripts show that Somerville apologized. He said he told the judge, “Sir, honestly I overslept and I didn’t understand the seriousness of this.”
“He asked me if I had a criminal record. I said, ‘Sir, I’ve never been arrested,’” Somerville told the station.
Kastrenakes then sentenced Somerville to 10 days in jail, along with the additional probation and apology letter. Somerville was then handcuffed in the courtroom, and was jailed for the next 10 days. He said he prayed daily, and wrote in a notebook. As for his apology, he told WPTV that he wants to apologize to the parties from the civil case he missed.
Somerville’s sentence is outrageous, however. Judge Kastrenakes’ order said trial was delayed by 45 minutes the day Somerville didn’t appear, and that the court wasn’t able to reach him. The order also said that based on Somerville’s explanation, there was no “good reason” to explain his failure to appear. Which, sure, but 10 days in jail? Bullshit.
Somerville told AP that at his hearing on Friday, his public defender will try to lessen his excessive probation sentence. Kastrenakes, meanwhile, told AP that he couldn’t comment on pending court cases.
“It hurts, but it’s a lesson learned. It could have been worse. He could have given me 365 days in jail,” Somerville told WPTV. Somerville told AP that he plans to go to school to become a firefighter. Now, his plans might be in jeopardy.
“Now I have a record. I almost feel like a criminal now,” Somerville told AP. “Now, I have to explain this in every interview.” Normal criminal justice system.