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No-Show for Jury Duty Faces Surprising Consequences

21-year-old Deandre Somerville is thrown in jail for 10 days after oversleeping, not calling in
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2019 8:05 AM CDT
Deandre Somerville.   (Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, via New York Times)
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(Newser) – A 21-year-old Florida man made three mistakes when he got picked to serve on a jury: he overslept the next morning, he decided not to bother going in at all, and he never called anyone at the court to let them know what was going on. That last error appears to have been Deandre Somerville's undoing, and now he has a 10-day jail sentence, a year of probation, and a misdemeanor conviction to show for it, per the AP. Somerville says when he woke up shortly after 11am on Aug. 21 and realized he was way overdue for the 9am court start time, it was almost time for him to head into his part-time job at the parks department—and he says because he was nervous about not showing up, he simply opted not to call, the New York Times reports. "I thought maybe the most I could get was a fine," he says.

Soon after, however, cops showed up at his door with a summons, and in court on Sept. 20, Judge John S. Kastrenakes wasn't happy. "We waited almost an hour for you to come to court," the judge said, per a transcript, before hitting Somerville with a criminal contempt of court charge and giving him not only the jail sentence (which he subsequently served) and probation, but also a $223 fine, 150 hours of community service, and a mandate Somerville write a "sincere" note of apology. "Could there have been other alternatives to be more instructive and less punitive? It's possible," a WPTV criminal analyst says. Somerville, who helps take care of his grandfather and hopes to be a firefighter, acknowledges he should face some consequence, but feels this was "excessive." "I've never been arrested," he tells the Times. "I kind of felt like he belittled me." (Read more weird crimes stories.)

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