by Douglas Ankney
Former white police officer Amber Guyger murdered her black neighbor and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. In contrast, 21-year-old Deandre Somerville, a black college student from Palm Beach County, Florida, committed the offense of oversleeping and arriving late for jury duty.
Somerville — who has no criminal record — was given 10 days in jail, 12 months of probation, 150 hours of community service, a $223 fine, and ordered to write a formal apology.
The disparity seems shocking – and it may even provoke anger – but is anyone really surprised?
Judge John Kastrenakes, angry that Somerville’s tardiness delayed the September trial by 45 minutes, immediately had Somerville cuffed and declared him in contempt. But after Somerville served the time, Kastrenakes pronounced Somerville “totally rehabilitated” and eventually vacated the entire thing.
However, Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, filed a complaint with the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission seeking Kastrenakes’ removal. And Democratic U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson of Miami called on Kastrenakes to step down for his “outrageous abuse of power.”
Glenn Mitchell, a criminal defense attorney, agrees. “I do not see [the juror misconduct case] as being an isolated incident,” Mitchell said. “I’ve seen it on several occasions. Just because a judge has the power doesn’t mean they always have to exercise that power.”
Sources: reason.com, sun-sentinel.com, pbpost.com
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