A 21-year-old Florida man who overslept for jury duty was sentenced to jail for 10 days and said his life will “never be the same again.”
On Aug. 20, Deandre Somerville was selected as a juror for a civil automobile accident negligence case at a courthouse in Palm Beach County. It was his first summons for jury duty, The Associated Press reported.
Somerville was told to come back the next day at 9 a.m. But he missed his alarm and woke up at about 11 a.m. instead, the AP reported.
“I woke up and I was like, ‘Oh shoot. It’s past the time,'” he told local news station Fox 6.
Instead of calling the bailiff or going to the courthouse, Somerville, who lives with his grandparents, went to his afternoon job, working at after-school programs for the city of West Palm Beach Parks and Recreation Department.
“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,” Somerville told the AP.
Police later came to Somerville’s home, and his grandfather told him to “just go in and be honest,” he told the AP.
"I overslept, for one, and I just didn't know the seriousness of it, to be honest. This is my first time ever coming to court when you told me to come. Other than that, I never been in the courthouse," Somerville told the judge, BuzzFeed News reported, citing a court transcript.
During his hearing, Circuit Civil Judge John Kastrenakes said the trial had been delayed by 45 minutes because of Somerville, whose conduct “impeded the due administration of justice.” Kastrenakes convicted Somerville of direct criminal contempt, handing him a 10-day jail sentence as well as 12 months probation, 150 hours of community service and an order to write an apology letter, Fox 6 reported.
“They handcuffed me in the courtroom after that,” Somerville told the AP. During his jail sentence, he spent his time writing and praying.
Somerville’s public defender appealed the sentence, and a judge on Friday lowered his sentence to three months probation and 30 hours of community service. As part of his probation, Somerville will also have to report to the jury office weekly to deliver a 10-minute speech — each of which will count for three hours of community service — about why jury duty is important, Fox 6 reports.
“It hurts, but it’s a lesson learned,” said Somerville. “It could have been worse.”