A 21-year-old Florida man was sentenced to 10 days of jail time and community service after he overslept and missed jury duty at a Palm Beach trial last week.
Weighing in on the story Thursday, Fox Nation's "UN-PC" host Britt McHenry questioned the judge's harsh punishment for the first-time juror.
"I think it's all ridiculous," said McHenry.
Deandre Somerville, 21, slept through his alarm and woke up hours later, missing his scheduled jury service. Afraid to call the court to notify them why he was unable to make it, Somerville instead headed for his afternoon job working afterschool programs at the city’s parks and recreation department. Hours later, an officer showed up at his home with a court summons.
“My grandfather said, ‘Just go in and be honest,’” said Somerville. “I’ve never had a criminal background, never been arrested, never been in handcuffs. The most I’ve ever gotten was a traffic ticket, so I was thinking it wouldn’t be that bad.”
The judge was less than pleased with Somerville, who apologized and explained his absence.
"I said, 'Sir, honestly I overslept and I didn't understand the seriousness of this.' He asked me if I had a criminal record. I said, 'Sir, I've never been arrested,'" Somerville told WPTV.
Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes eventually found Somerville in criminal contempt of the court and sentenced him to 10 days in jail, 150 hours of community service and a $223 fine.
"Now I have a record," Somerville said. "I almost feel like a criminal now. Now, I have to explain this in every interview."
After an outpour of criticism, Judge Kastrenakes reduced Somerville’s sentence to time served and accepted his letter of apology. Instead of a year’s probation, Somerville will now serve three months, according to The Sun-Sentinel. His original 150 hours of community service were cut to 30, which includes weekly speeches to new jurors on the importance of jury duty. Somerville said he plans to go to school to become a firefighter.
“Good people make bad mistakes, and this is a classic example,” Kastrenakes told The Sun-Sentinel. “Jury misconduct is a serious concern."
Reacting to the ordeal, McHenry came to Somerville's defense and accused the judge of trying to "fulfill his own ego."
"Jail time? He was at work...it's not like he went on vacation," she said. "I think that's bananas!"
McHenry compared Somerville's sentence to actress Felicity Huffman, who was recently sentenced to two weeks in prison for her role in the college admissions scandal.
"Felicity Huffman, for all of her wrongdoing...bribing, paying off to get her kid into college, got 14 days. This guy misses jury duty and goes to work, and gets ten days...I just think that the judge was doing that more to fulfill his own ego than actually sending a message to this kid," she said.
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