Judge clears record for man he jailed 10 days for missing jury duty after story went national

(Video screenshots)

A Palm Beach County judge cleared the criminal record of a 21-year-old he’d sentenced to jail after the youth, Deandre Somerville, apologized in court for his rude actions.

“This was an immature decision that I made and I paid the price for my freedom,” Deandre Somerville said to Judge John Kastrenakes during a hearing Friday. “Before my hearing, I walked into the courtroom a free man with no criminal record. I left a criminal in handcuffs.”

“As a result of my irresponsible actions, my life has been forever changed. Everything I’ve gone through, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.”

See some scenes from Friday’s hearing below:

(Source: KJCT)

The young man was originally sentenced to 10 days in jail, one year of probation, 150 hours of community service and a $233 fine after he overslept during his first day of jury duty in August and then continued on with his day without informing the court of what had happened.

“He was the only African American on the jury, representing a cross-section of the community, and he decided on his own that it wasn’t worth his time to come back,” Kastrenakes has said of Somerville’s behavior. “I came to the conclusion it was deserving of punishment, good people make bad mistakes.”

That they do.

But after Somerville served 10 days in a Florida jail and poured his heart out in court last Friday, Kastrenakes finally decided to cut him a much-needed break.

In a ruling filed Saturday, the judge reportedly described his words as “moving, sincere, and heartfelt” and wrote that he’d been “totally rehabilitated.”

“I know he now understands and respects our system of justice and the critical role jurors play in that system,” he added. “In conclusion, I do not want even a finding of contempt to be gleaned from a perusal of his background or record.”

Besides clearing the young man’s criminal record, Kastrenakes also reduced his sentence by dropping it to 30 hours of community service and three months of probation. The decision was also made in part because of what he learned about Somerville on Friday.

“Judge Kastrenakis got to learn more about Somerville’s character. He’s a church drummer, part-time city employee who takes care of his disabled grandfather, volunteers at food drives and has helped paint homes for Habitat for Humanity,” local station WPTV reported.

“I love my son, he’s a great person, but he’s 21 and 21-year-olds can just be irresponsible [some times],” the boy’s mother, Annique Owens, said in court.

She added that her son’s jail sentence was equally tough on her.

“Owens talked to her son in jail every day while he was in there and had to hear about how he saw someone get beat up right in front of him, how he stopped eating, how he barely slept, and had fevers his last nights there,” station WPTV notes.

“I said, ‘I can try to send you money,’ and he said, ‘no, what I need from you is to answer the phone when I call. That’s what I want mom, just answer the phone when I call,'” she said to the station. “So that was hard and we did it for 10 days.”

But as seen in the KJCT video above, she isn’t mad at the judge … anymore.

“I was very angry, but I can’t go back and change what happened. The judge was fair today, I believe,” she said.

But not everybody has chosen to adopt the same forgiving attitude maintained by Somerville, his mother, and the judge.

When the teen’s story first went viral, numerous left-wing activists, including anti-Semitic Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar, used it to grievance monger over race.

The judge said Friday that he “would have punished anyone who behaved the way Mr. Somerville behaved in the same manner.”

And now that the situation has been formally settled, the racial grievance mongers are still at it.

There’s no actual evidence to suggest Kastrenakes is a racist.


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