Deandre Somerville is a 21-year-old man from Florida who spends his days working as a youth leader and taking care of his elderly grandfather, who has lost his mobility. On August 20, the young man was called to be a juror for a civil automobile accident negligence case in West Palm Beach County, Florida. He was ordered to appear the next morning for the trial at 9 a.m. However, he accidentally overslept and missed his ride, thus missing jury duty, according to BuzzFeed News.
Realizing he overslept and wouldn’t make jury duty, Somerville decided to run on foot to work. He did not call the court to inform anyone that he’d be unable to make it. But three weeks after he was expected for jury duty, police officers arrived at his family’s home. At his grandfather’s urging to be honest about what had happened, Somerville went to the police station to explain the situation.
Circuit Civil Judge John Kastrenakes called him forward for a hearing on September 30, during which time Somerville apologized for his mistake. Nevertheless, the judge let him have it in court, scolding him for not only oversleeping but for not answering his phone and thus making everyone wait for 45 minutes before they could continue on with the court case.
“Your intentional, willful failure to follow the orders of the court is a serious matter,” the judge said.
Somerville was convicted of direct criminal contempt, given a year of probation, ordered to pay a fine, and sentenced to 10 days of jail.
The experience was traumatizing for Somerville, who says he did not realize the seriousness of missing jury duty. His 10 days in jail also put his family in a pinch, as the young man wasn’t able to help care for his grandfather during that time as he usually did. Now, he wishes the judge had taken the time to get to know him and his situation before giving him such a harsh sentence.
“A whole 10 days. It put a bind on my family. It neglected me from helping my family. When I am not working, I am helping maintain the house. I am taking my granddad to therapy. I am constantly going. It was hard. My granddad missed days of therapy when I was in jail.”
The video of Somerville in court was shared on YouTube, angering many online users who felt the judge was being unfair to him.
“This judge is so racist I want to cry for this young man,” one person wrote.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, racism in terms of legal injustice has been a topic of much conversation in the media lately due to the sentencing of former police officer Amber Guyger, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for shooting and killing Botham Jean. The Texas man was in his own apartment at the time of the shooting and Guyger entered, mistakenly thinking it was her own apartment.