21-Year-Old Sentenced To 10 Days in Jail for Oversleeping, Missing His Jury Duty



21 year old sent to jail for 10 days for missing jury duty

Deandre Somerville from West Palm Beach, Florida, was sworn in as a juror and scheduled to appear in court for a civil rights case on August 21. The 21-year-old was absent in court that day, which he later explained was due to missing his alarm and oversleeping. 

At that time, he hadn’t fully understood the implications of a juror being absent in a trial, so he didn’t bother to call the courthouse and clear things up. When he woke up, he got ready and headed off to the West Palm Beach Parks and Recreation Department, where he works in an afterschool program.

Judge John Kastrenakis ruled Somerville’s actions to be in direct contempt of the court, delaying the trail for 45 minutes. According to WPTV, Somerville was sentenced to ten days in jail, 150 hours of community service, and a year of probation [1]. He was also required to present a written apology of at least 100 words to the court and pay a fine of $233. 

He had no criminal record prior to his conviction

Somerville is fighting hard to have the charged dropped and his record cleared, even though he has served the ten-day jail term. He was scheduled to be in court at 9:00 am the day he missed his jury duty, but he woke up at 11:30 am. He didn’t think it was important to call the bailiff.

“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 said in a phone interview.

Somerville lives with his grandparents where he helps to look after his aged grandfather when his grandmother is at work. He’d been playing basketball when he received a call from his grandmother that there was a police officer with a court summons for him. 

“My grandfather said, ‘Just go in and be honest,’” said Somerville. “I’ve never had a criminal background, never been arrested, never been in handcuffs. The most I’ve ever gotten was a traffic ticket so I was thinking it wouldn’t be that bad.”

He went to court a free man that day and was led out in handcuffs to begin his jail sentence [2].

“Before my hearing, I walked into the courtroom a free man with no criminal record,” Somerville’s letter to the court read. “I left a criminal in handcuffs. This was an immature decision that I made, and I paid the price for my freedom.

Social media users stand up for Somerville

Somerville has plans to go to school and pursue his firefighter dream soon. Social media users are campaigning for the conviction to be dropped, with many saying that his offense was merely a misdemeanor and did not warrant the punishment he received. His new ‘rap sheet’ will affect his college application interviews and employment prospects.

“Now I have a record. I almost feel like a criminal now. Now, I have to explain this in every interview,” said Somerville.

According to WPTV, friends and family vouched for the young man’s character, stating that he volunteers for charity work in his community. 

Somerville’s lawyer pleaded to have the case withdrawn from the court when he was released ten days later. Although the judge insisted that his offense was a serious one, the sentence was reduced from 150 hours of community service to 30 hours. In addition to this, Somerville would be required to deliver weekly 10-minute talks at the jury office on the importance and seriousness of jury duty.

“I came to the conclusion it was deserving of punishment. Good people make bad mistakes,” Kastrenakis said. Records from the court show that the conviction has been withheld and the judge is willing to entertain a motion to drop the conviction.

  1. Michelle Quesada. 21-year-old man sentenced to 10 days in jail for failing to report to jury service. WPTV. https://www.wptv.com/news/region-c-palm-beach-county/west-palm-beach/21-year-old-sentenced-to-10-days-in-jail-for-failing-to-report-to-jury-service. Retrieved 16-10-19
  2. Harmeet Kaur. A 21-year-old was sentenced to 10 days in jail after he overslept for jury duty. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2019/10/04/us/florida-man-jury-duty-oversleeps-jail-time-trnd/index.html. Retrieved 16-10-19

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