FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A judge sentenced a 19-year-old to four months in jail for not mentioning his arrest record when he was called for jury duty, outraging his family.
Circuit Judge Eileen O'Connor (search) freed Stacey Forbes on bond Wednesday while he pursues an appeal. He had already served a month of the sentence she imposed for criminal contempt.
"She wants blood from this kid, clearly," said Bill Gelin, Forbes' attorney. "It's unheard of nationwide, this type of sentence" for a juror.
"Mean," said Coleen Forbes, Stacey's mother. "She is mean."
Police arrested Forbes in October on charges related to car break-ins. More recently, he was arrested on a marijuana possession charge. In both cases, prosecutors declined to file charges, but the latter charge was not dropped until after he was jailed.
Forbes said he did not intentionally try to hide anything when he was called for jury duty March 22. A high school dropout, Forbes said he had problems reading a questionnaire that asks whether prospective jurors have a criminal background.
"It's ridiculous," Forbes said after his release. "It's outrageous. It's crazy."
Public defender Howard Finklestein said he is not aware of a local juror receiving such a tough sentence. Records show that in previous similar cases jurors have been given probation or forced to write letters of apology.
"One has to wonder why such a Draconian sentence, if the person who didn't tell the truth didn't do it for any reason that benefited him," Finklestein said.
Forbes, who apologized to O'Connor before he was sentenced, said he was in shock.
"I didn't cry until I got into the cell, thinking, 'Wow — this really happened," he said.
While appealing the sentence, which could take more than a year, his travel is restricted, he is under a 1 a.m. curfew and he must check in with authorities three times a week.
The judge did not return a call to her chambers Thursday.