Judge clears record of Fla. man jailed for missing jury duty

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (WPTV/CNN/AP) — A Florida man who spent 10 days in jail after he overslept and missed jury duty had his record cleared by a judge Monday.

Palm Beach County Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes rescinded his contempt finding against 21-year-old Deandre Somerville, writing that Somerville has been apologetic, “totally rehabilitated” and no longer needs to be on probation, news outlets reported.

“I know he now understands and respects our system of justice and the critical role jurors play in that system,” Kastrenakes wrote. “In conclusion, I do not want even a finding of contempt to be gleaned from a perusal of his background or record.”

Somerville, who says he overslept for jury duty on Aug. 21, apologized to Kastrenakes Friday and said he had not understood the seriousness of jury service. He spent 10 days in jail because of the incident, which he says left him shaken.

“As a result of my irresponsible actions, my life has been forever changed,” he said. “Everything I’ve gone through, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.”

Kastrenakes accepted Somerville’s apology and reduced his probation from one year to three months and community service from 150 to 30 hours. Days later, the judge vacated the probation sentence entirely, although he maintained that Somerville had been careless to not show up for jury duty.

Somerville was sent to jail Sept. 20 when he admitted to oversleeping and failing to return to court for jury duty. The 21-year-old had already been sworn in to serve on a jury in a civil case. His absence delayed the trial for 45 minutes, as court employees tried to reach him.

“He was the only African American on the jury, representing a cross-section of the community, and he decided on his own that it wasn’t worth his time to come back," Kastrenakes said.

Somerville says he also didn’t call the bailiff before heading straight to his afternoon job in an afterschool program at the West Palm Beach city parks department.

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