Roommates, you might’ve gotten out of jury duty before, but you might want to show up when summoned. 21-year-old Deandre Somerville was selected to serve on a civil jury in August, and spent10 days in jail after he overslept for the trial.
According to CNN, he was summoned for a hearing in court last month, and despite not having a criminal record, Deandre stared at the walls of a cell for 10 days after a circuit court judge ruled his absence was inexcusable.
“I just 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,” Deandre said.
Judge John Kastrenakis reportedly found Deandre in direct contempt of court, according to documents. Kastrenakis says he made his decision because Deandre did not contact the court to explain his absence, and his failure to show up delayed the trial for 45 minutes.
According to court records, the judge originally sentenced Somerville to 10 days in jail, 150 hours of community service, a written apology of at least 100 words, a year of probation and $233 in fees. His case, however, garnered outrage social media, with many people calling his punishment unfair. Some even point out that having a misdemeanor on his record would affect his chances of employment.
Deandre appealed the sentence in court on Friday after he spent 10 days in jail in the jury duty case.
“Before my hearing, I walked into the courtroom a free man with no criminal record,” he said in court. “I left a criminal in handcuffs.”
Friends and family gathered in support of Deandre at his hearing, speaking on the impact he has his family and his community. Speakers on his behalf note that he helps care for his disabled grandfather and has been involved volunteer efforts in his community.
Deandre also wrote the judge a formal apology in the form of a letter.
“This was an immature decision that I made, and I paid the price for my freedom,” he read.
The judge then came to the decision to reduce Deandre’s probation, but stands by his idea that Deandre committed a serious offense.”
“I came to the conclusion it was deserving of punishment. Good people make bad mistakes,” he said.
Instead of a one year probation period, Deandre will now serve just three months. He will also have to to do 30 hours of community service.