Everyone has slept in at some point in their life. However, for one Florida man, a seemingly harmless lie-in turned into 10 days in jail.
Deandre Somerville was handed jail time, one year of probation, 150 hours of community service, a $223 fine as well as being made to write a letter of ‘sincere apology’ at least 100 words long after failing to serve on a jury earlier in August.
The 21-year-old, who works at after-school programs for the city of West Palm Beach Parks and Recreation Department, was released Sunday and has a hearing scheduled Friday.
Check out the local news report below:
As reported by CBS Miami, Somerville said: ‘After going through that, my life will never be the same again.’
The 21-year-old had been summoned for jury service for the first time over the summer.
After a long day of sitting and waiting in the courtroom, he was eventually selected as a juror on a civil case. He was then told to return the next day, at 9.00, for the hearing.
Unfortunately Somerville slept in, waking up at around 11.30. ‘I woke up and I was like, ‘Oh shoot, it’s past the time’,’ he told CBS Miami.
At that time of the day, he was soon due at his afternoon job. Here comes his biggest error: he didn’t phone the court. He simply thought better of it, assuming it would work itself out, and went to work.
In an interview with NBC Miami, Somerville said:
At work, I was looking on my phone thinking: ‘What’s the worst case scenario that could happen?’ I thought maybe I would get a fine or something like that.
Alas, jury duty is no joke. In the days following, Somerville was served with a subpoena to go before the judge.
Somerville lives at home with his grandparents, also helping to look after his grandfather who recently had surgery, taking him to therapy and the grocery store as well as assisting him with walking.
As reported by CBS Miami, Somerville said:
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.
My grandma was saying: ‘I think you should dress up,’ and I said: ‘Nah, I’m going to wear my work clothes cause I felt like at least he can see that I’m doing something, cause a lot of times people get stereotyped, ‘oh he’s just another black boy out here doing something he’s not supposed to be doing’.
Somerville told NBC Miami: ‘I’ve never had a criminal background, never been arrested, never been in handcuffs. The most I’ve ever gotten was a traffic ticket so I was thinking it wouldn’t be that bad.’
As he stood before the judge, he was asked to explain why he missed the date. ‘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’,’ Somerville said.
However, according to court transcripts, Judge John Kastrenakes was not easy on the 21-year-old, explaining to him that his late sleep delayed the court by 45 minutes. The court reportedly tried to contact Somerville on the day, but to no avail.
As reported by The Washington Post, Judge Kastrenakes said:
We waited almost an hour for you to come to court; you didn’t come. I had the jury office call to see where you were. God forbid you’d been in an accident or something terrible had happened. You shut your phone off.
Soon after being sentenced, he was handcuffed and taken to jail. He was initially worried about his grandfather – ‘Like he depends on me, so it’s hard for him,’ Somerville said.
Talking about his first time in jail, he said: ‘It’s like I’m really in jail with cold, hard criminals.’
It hurts, but it’s a lesson learned. It could have been worse. He could have given me 365 days in jail.
Multiple outlets tried to contact the judge to ask him about the sentencing decision, but he said he wasn’t permitted to comment on pending court matters.
Somerville, who plans to go to school to become a firefighter, added:
Now I have a record. I almost feel like a criminal now. Now, I have to explain this in every interview.
It’s times like this I don’t regret setting multiple alarms every morning.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.