West Palm Beach, Florida — A Florida man who spent 10 days in jail after he overslept and missed jury duty had his record cleared by a judge Monday.
Palm Beach County Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes rescinded his contempt finding against 21-year-old Deandre Somerville, writing that Somerville has been apologetic, "totally rehabilitated" and no longer needs to be on probation, CBS West Palm Beach affiliate WPEC-TV reports.
"I know he now understands and respects our system of justice and the critical role jurors play in that system," Kastrenakes wrote. "In conclusion, I do not want even a finding of contempt to be gleaned from a perusal of his background or record."
Somerville served his 10-day jail sentence last month. Kastrenakes had initially also sentenced him to 12 months of probation and ordered him to perform 150 hours of community service. On Friday, the judge reduced those terms to three months of probation and 30 hours of community service.
Three days later, Kastrenakes vacated the probation sentence entirely, although he maintained that Somerville had been careless to not show up for jury duty on Aug. 21.
Somerville said he overslept and didn't call the bailiff before heading straight to his afternoon job in an afterschool program at the West Palm Beach city parks department. His absence delayed the court by 45 minutes, according to court records.
Somerville, who had no previous criminal record, read a letter of apology in Kastrenakes' court on Friday, saying his experience in jail had left him shaken.
"As a result of my irresponsible actions, my life has been forever changed," he said. "Everything I've gone through, I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy."
Kastrenakes said Monday he found Somerville's apology letter to be "moving, sincere and heartfelt."
WPEC notes that Palm Beach County courts are having a hard time getting jurors to show up. Only about 30 percent of people called do, says Chief Judge Krista Marx of Florida's 15th Judicial Circuit, the same circuit that Somerville's punishment was handed down in.
"We're not asking you to do us a favor. We're asking you to do your civic duty," she told WPEC. "And most people don't look at it that way. They try to wriggle out of it."