Florida man sentenced to 10 days in jail for missing jury duty

Florida

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (WPTV) – Deandre Somerville, 21, learned the hard way, why you can’t miss jury duty.

“After going through that, my life will never be the same again,” he says.

In August, he was sworn in as a juror on a civil case. He understood he was to return the next day for the continuation of the trial, but he overslept.

“I woke up and I was like, ‘Oh shoot, it’s past the time,'” said Somerville.

Mistake number two: He didn’t call the jury office to let them know what was going on. Days later, he was served with a subpoena to go before the judge.

“I talked to my grandad for a while and he said the best thing you can always do is honesty, so I went for the hearing,” said Somerville.

Somerville lives with his grandparents and helps look after his grandfather by taking him to therapy.

 The judge asked him to explain why he did not show up to court when he was supposed to.

“I said, ‘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,'” added Somerville.

Court transcripts show Somerville apologized, but the judge sentenced him to 10 days in jail.

“Like he depends on me, so it was hard for him,” Somerville said.

Judge John Kastrenakes’ order said Somerville’s failure to appear delayed the trial by 45 minutes and the court also tried to reach him and could not.

WPTV’s criminal analyst Michelle Suskauer said these cases are not common.

“This is going to show others you have to take this very seriously, but this 21-year-old with no prior record now has a misdemeanor conviction,” said Suskauer. “Could there have been other alternatives to be more instructive and less punitive? It’s possible.”

Somerville spent 10 days in jail is on probation for a year and has to complete 150 hours of community service.

“It hurts, but it’s a lesson learned. It could have been worse. He could have given me 365 days in jail,” added Somerville.

The judge’s order found, based on Somerville’s explanation, there was no good reason to explain why he didn’t appear in court.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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