Legislation sponsored by State Senator Bobby Powell, Jr. (D-West Palm Beach), SB 1590 Juror Sanctions, which would curb heavy-handed judicial punishment on citizens who fail to appear for jury duty unanimously passed the Florida Senate on Tuesday.
“I am extremely proud of this legislation and the bipartisan effort to get it to this point,” said Senator Powell. “I applaud the Florida Senate for its unanimous endorsement, and the message it sent today about delivering fair justice.”
Senator Powell’s legislation would amend current Florida statute to mirror federal law regarding sanctions for missing jury duty. SB1590 would limit such punishment to any combination of the following sanctions: a fine not to exceed $1,000, a term of imprisonment not to exceed 3 days, and an order to perform community service.
The bill was filed in response to the harsh 10-day imprisonment sentence imposed last year on Deandre Somerville, a 21-year old who was found in contempt of court for oversleeping, and missing his jury duty appearance. Somerville was also sentenced to one year probation, 150 hours of community service, and $223 fine, even after apologizing to the court.
The House companion legislation continues to await action in that chamber.