Deandre Somerville (21) was selected for jury duty but on the day of the trial, he overslept. Unsure of what to do, Somerville went on about his daily duties and on September 23rd was found in criminal contempt of the court.
What We Know:
- Somerville was chosen as a juror on Aug. 20 for a civil trial in Florida’s 15th judicial circuit. He was ordered to return the following day at 9:30 a.m.
- After oversleeping, the situation quickly became a criminal matter for Somerville. Despite not having a criminal record, Somerville was sentenced to 10 days in jail, 1 year of probation and 150 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay a $223 fine and write a “sincere” letter of apology.
- “I should have called,” Somerville told NBC News. “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.”
- Somerville’s punishment created a buzz on social media, many were outraged at the dramatic sentencing, going on to comparing his punishments to others we’ve seen this year:
“They handcuffed me in the courtroom after that,” said 21yo Deandre Somerville, who spent the next 10 days in jail.
“Now I have a record. I almost feel like a criminal now. Now, I have to explain this in every interview.”
In what way do such punitive measures benefit society? https://t.co/Qzdyfypco0
— Sarah Quinlan (@sarahmquinlan) October 4, 2019
#DeAndreSomerville Overslept jury duty
10 days jail
1 yr probation
150 hrs comm svc
NEVER in trouble now has criminal record#FelicityHuffman GUILTY #collegeadmissionsscandal
14 days jail
1 yr probation
250 hrs comm svc
— Kemu (@kemu808) October 4, 2019
- Many questioned whether or not the sentencing was so harsh due to Somerville being black. Kastrenakes says that “Somerville was the only African American on the jury and represented a very important cross-section in our community.” The proof is in the pudding.
- After the public defender’s appeal, his punishments were then reduced down to between 30-150 hours of community service and 3 months of probation.
- In his ruling on last week, Kastrenakes said that Somerville’s letter was “moving, sincere and heartfelt.”
“I know that he has been totally rehabilitated,” the judge wrote. He said that he ordered probation because he wanted other people to understand that serving on a jury “is serious business deserving of attention, respect and adherence to their oaths.