A Florida man sentenced to 10 days in jail after oversleeping and failing to appear for jury duty will have his criminal record wiped clean.
Palm Beach County Judge John S. Kastrenakes signed an order on Saturday vacating the contempt finding and probation sentence he issued last month against 21-year-old Deandre Somerville, CNN reported.
Somerville, a local college student, was selected as a juror Aug. 20 for a civil trial but was a no-show for the first day of trial and failed to notify the court or explain his absence. As a result, Kastrenakes slapped the young man with a 10-day jail sentence, in addition to one year probation and 150 hours of community service.
Somerville was also ordered to pay $223 in court costs and write a letter of apology to the court.
“Upon waking up and realizing I was extremely late, I failed to comply with rules and contact the courthouse to notify them,” he wrote. “This was an immature decision that I made, and I paid the price for my freedom.”
“As a result of my irresponsible actions, my life has been forever changed,” Somerville added.
After reading his apology in open court, the judge moved to reduce his probation to just three months instead of a year, and even slashed his community service hours.
Citing national news headlines and outrage over the highly publicized case, Kastrenakes decided Monday that Somerville had faced enough scrutiny. So, he changed his mind about finding him guilty of contempt of court and vacated his probation sentence and community service altogether.
“Given the abundant publicity surrounding Mr. Somerville’s case, I have concluded that the importance of a sworn juror abiding by the law has been made clear,” Kastrenakes wrote, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Therefore, there exists no reason to continue Mr. Somerville on probation.”
The judge praised Somerville as “a thoughtful and respectful” young man and said he was convinced the college student was “totally rehabilitated” after blowing off his jury duty.
“I know that he now understands and respects our system of justice and the critical role jurors play in that system,” Kastrenakes added. “In conclusion, I do not want even a finding of contempt to be gleaned from a perusal of his background or record.”
Somerville’s lawyer told the outlet they would “proceed with getting his record completely expunged now that the case is over.”