The defense can finally rest.
A Florida judge vacated a contempt of court conviction against the 21-year-old man he’d sentenced to 10 days in jail for sleeping through jury duty last month, according to CNN.
Judge John Kastrenake said he was swayed by a heartfelt letter Deandre Somerville read to the court Friday, apologizing for neglecting his civic duty without weighing the consequences.
According to Somerville, he made an “immature decision” by not showing up to jury duty and he was sorry.
“Before my hearing, I walked into the courtroom a free man with no criminal record,” Somerville read from that letter Friday. “I left a criminal in handcuffs.”
The case drew attention on social media where critics argued the judge, who also sentenced Somerville to 150 hours community service and $233 in fines, had come down too hard on a man who’d had no previous brushes with the law.
Many people also found it unfair that this incident would leave Somerville with a criminal record.
Character witnesses came to court with Somerville, telling Kastrenake the defendant was a good person who volunteers in his West Palm Beach community and looks after his disabled grandfather.
In vacating his decision Saturday, Kastrenake reportedly said he found Somerville’s apology “moving, sincere and heartfelt.”
The judge also felt the publicity that followed Somerville’s case achieved his goal of stressing the importance of civic duty and that there was no need to make an example out of the defendant.
“I know that he has been totally rehabilitated,”Kastrenake wrote in his decision.