Lawmakers to call for disciplinary action against Palm Beach County judge in jury duty case

Lawmakers to call for disciplinary action against Palm Beach County judge in jury duty case
A Florida state senator and other elected officials will call for disciplinary action against a Palm Beach County judge who sentenced a man to 10 days in jail for missing jury duty. (Source: 15th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida state senator and other elected officials will call for disciplinary action against a Palm Beach County judge who sentenced a man to 10 days in jail for missing jury duty.

15th Circuit Civil Judge John Kastrenakes sentenced 21-year-old DeAndre Somerville to 10 days behind bars last month, put him on probation for a year, and ordered him to complete 150 hours of community service after the young man overslept and missed jury duty on Aug. 21.

But after Somerville read a poignant and heartfelt letter of apology in court, Judge Kastrenakes vacated and rescinded Somerville's contempt of court charge and punishment, meaning his record his now clean.

Despite that, State Sen. Bobby Powell (D - West Palm Beach) has called for the Judicial Qualifications Commission to investigate Judge Kastrenakes.

In a statement, State Sen. Powell said:

On Friday at 10:30 a.m., State Sen. Powell will join Somerville, his attorney Edwin Ferguson, along with other elected officials and community leaders to call for disciplinary action against the judge, claiming he violated the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Earlier this week, Somerville expressed gratitude for Judge Kastrenakes' decision to rescind his conviction and punishment.

“I’m just glad that he did have a change of heart and he really knows the real me and he sees that I’m not a bad kid,” Somerville told FOX 29′s Michelle Quesada on Tuesday. “I’m just someone who made a bad mistake.”

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Judge Kastrenakes' court order read, in part:

In a tweet announcing Friday's news conference, State Sen. Powell wrote:

Court records show Keith Lattimore spent nine days in jail and was sentenced to three months probation after being found guilty of contempt of court back in April.

According to a court order from Judge Kastrenakes, Lattimore appeared for jury selection on Dec. 12, 2018.

However, Lattimore told workers in the court's jury administration office that "(1) he had better things to go than come to court; (2) he didn't believe in coming to court; (3) and he refused to participate in the process. Thereupon, he left the building without permission."

Lattimore "exhibited contemptuous conduct, which directly impeded the due administration of justice," the court order stated.

Friday's news conference will take place at the Palm Beach County Courthouse in downtown West Palm Beach.

FOX 29 will provide live coverage and updates online.

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