Public Enemy #1 - October 2019
A young man oversleeps and misses an appointment; his punishment, jail time.
Deandre Somerville, a 21-year-old, black, Florida resident was sentenced to 10 days in jail for missing his scheduled jury duty in a civil trial. Judge Kastrenakes found Somerville in contempt of court for his absence. Somerville did not call to follow up on his absence from the courtroom.
Somerville's original sentence included 10 days served, a 100-word written apology, 150 hours of community service, one year of probation, and $233 in fees. News of this decision spread through social media, and outrage ensued. Even the likes of Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar weighed in on the unjust decision.
After Somerville appealed his case to a higher court, Kastrenakes vacated Somerville's sentence and cleared his record. Kastrenakes wrote in his order following his decision, that "The apology letter read by Mr. Somerville was moving, sincere and heartfelt," he continued. "I know he has been totally rehabilitated."
Kastrenakes is the Public Enemy of the Month for October for precisely this. As a judge of the high court, it is not his role to inflict damage. Somerville, as a young man with no prior issues with the law, made a mistake. To suggest altering the course of this man's life, for an infraction we all commit commonly is ridiculous. This is an extension of the criminal justice system which habitually traumatizes black men from the time that they are born granting them a one in three chance of ending up incarcerated. Somerville has now fallen to that statistic for missing a session of jury duty. And on top of that, Kastrenakes' excuse for the harsh treatment of Somerville was that he was the only black jury member in the case.
See what Twitter had to say about the incident below: