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Judge rescinds punishment for man who failed to appear for jury service

Posted: 2:14 PM, Oct 07, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-07 18:58:01-04
Judge rescinds punishment for man who failed to appear for jury service

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A judge has had a change of heart in the case of a man he sent to jail for 10 days because he overslept and failed to return to court for his jury service.

Fifteenth Circuit Civil Judge John Kastrenakes said DeAndre Somerville didn't appear on the first day testimony was scheduled in an August trial until he was summoned more than a week later. Somerville had already been sworn in to serve on the jury in the civil case.

The judge sentenced Somerville to 10 days in jail, put him on probation for a year and ordered him to complete 150 hours of community service as well as write a letter of apology.

Somerville returned to court last week and read a letter of apology in open court. "Before my hearing, I walked into the courtroom a free man with no criminal record. I left a criminal in handcuffs," Somerville said during the proceeding.

The judge learned Somerville is a church drummer, part-time city employee who takes care of his disabled grandfather, volunteers at food drives and has helped paint homes for Habitat for Humanity. He then reduced Somerville's probation from 12 months to 3 with conditions.

After a weekend of reflection, Judge Kastrenakes said he came to the conclusion that Somerville's apology was moving, sincere and heartfelt. He wrote, "I know he has been totally rehabilitated." The judge also wrote, "upon reflection, that redemption should be immediately rewarded by vacating any finding of contempt."

In his ruling the judge said, "given the abundant publicity surrounding Mr. Somverville's case, I have concluded that the importance and seriousness of a sworn juror abiding by the law has been made clear."

As a result the judge said his finding of contempt and sentence of probation for Somerville is vacated and rescinded.

Read the full order below.