21-year-old aspiring firefighter Deandre Somerville, from West Palm Beach, Florida, had been tasked to serve as a juror on a civil case and he was expected to arrive in court at 9 a.m. the following day, states Lucy Middleton of the UK’s highest-circulating newspaper Metro. Somerville, who works for the West Palm Beach Parks and Recreation Department’s after-school program, woke up at 11 a.m by accident. And it was nearly time for his job! He did not contact anyone at the court.
|Deandre Somerville with his family / Photo Credit: AP (via Metro)|
However, Somerville did not realize that him arriving late at work would delay the court by 45 minutes. He was then expected to pay a fine for showing up. The 21-year-old’s grandparents, who he lives with, called him to say that a police officer arrived at their house with a court summons. Somerville went to court and wanted to “be honest.” He says, “The most I’ve ever gotten was a traffic ticket so I was thinking it wouldn’t be that bad.”
Judge John Kastrenakes found the young man in “direct contempt of the court” because he did not explain his absence. Hence, Judge Kastrenakes sentenced Somerville to 10 days in jail, 150 hours of community service, and 12 months of probation. He was also made to write an apology letter “of at least 100 words” and pay a fine of $233 in fees.
|Deandre Somerville / Photo Credit: AP (via Metro)|
Somerville spent the next 10 days in jail, where he described his experience as “scary.” He prayed and wrote in his notebook everyday. Somerville is now released and calls for an appeal for his sentence. The man’s family and friends vouched for his character, citing how he takes care of his disabled grandfather, who is unable to walk, and volunteers in the community.
Somerville reads from his apology letter, “This was an immature decision that I made, and I paid the price for my freedom.” Presently, Somerville will serve three months of probation, render 30 hours of community service, and produce a 10-minute talk on the significance of jury duty each week. The judge may consider dropping the charge in the future, according to Harmeet Kaur of American news channel CNN.