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Do you think women who breastfeed or have young children should be exempt from serving jury duty?

Posted by on Oct. 21, 2013 at 11:47 AM
  • 18 Replies

Moms of Young Children Should Be Exempt From Jury Duty

by Lisa Fogarty 

Few of us actually look forward to reporting to jury duty, but like good civic bees we do what we must to keep our country's justice system functioning. But have you ever been asked to serve while you were in the middle of breastfeeding, taking care of your young children, and trying to keep your own family functioning? It can be an absolute nightmare to get around some state court's rules when it comes to jury duty and the responsibility of caring for children. And for one woman in Kansas City, her decision to bring her baby with her to court for jury duty so that she could continue to breastfeed may put her in contempt of court and cost her a $500 fine. Not exactly what you would call a just and fair ruling, is it? 

Laura Trickle was given a choice when she replied to a court summons and stated she was breastfeeding and would be unable to serve at this time: according to Missouri law she could either report to jury duty and use a private room to pump milk and store it so her son could feed from a bottle at home or she could report to jury duty with her baby and a caretaker and use her breaks to breastfeed. 

In the real world, these options don't always work out. Laura's son refuses to drink from a bottle -- something many of us can relate to -- and she either doesn't know of a caretaker whom she can trust or she can't afford to pay one for nine hours a day for, oh, however long the case may run! Laura did the best she could by bringing her baby with her to court. I mean, kudos to her for actually showing up, which is more of an effort than some people give. But the court didn't see it that way and now she has to report to her own court hearing to find out if she'll face penalties for not following directions.

Only twelve states currently exempt breastfeeding moms from serving jury duty, but we have to do better. Not only should all states pardon breastfeeding moms, there should also be an understanding that moms (and stay-at-home or work-from-home dads) of young children -- whether they breastfeed or formula feed -- don't always have an easy time finding childcare solutions so they can serve jury duty.

My baby was 18 months old when I showed up to serve and I had to practically beg lawyers not to put me on their cases. Because I worked part-time, the court deemed me fit to serve. But what they didn't get was that I didn't have a caretaker from noon until 5 pm or on Thursdays or Fridays and would have to pay for one -- for someone I didn't know or trust to watch my baby. The thought completely freaked me out and I guarantee my head wouldn't have been clear enough to properly judge a case. 

Do you think women who breastfeed or have young children should be exempt from serving jury duty?

by on Oct. 21, 2013 at 11:47 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by Anonymous 1 on Oct. 21, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Here if you are breastfeeding or pregnant you automatically get exempt but just because you have small children, no you should still have to serve.

by Anonymous 2 on Oct. 21, 2013 at 12:13 PM

 I don't have to worry about it. All I need to do is have my therapist write a letter stating why I cannot serve on jury duty.

by on Oct. 21, 2013 at 12:18 PM
2 moms liked this

I don't think that mothers who are the primary caregivers to children under kindergarten age should have to serve.  I was called to serve when my oldest was 3, and while I might possibly have been able to find child care for him, it wouldn't have been free, and the court only paid $15 a day (!) for "compensation" for Jury Duty.  Um... no.  Luckily, it was in a state where as long as you stated that you were the primary caregiver for a child under age 5, you could be exempt.

by Anonymous 3 on Oct. 21, 2013 at 1:48 PM
1 mom liked this

I'm fine with them being exempt. The jury duty process is a horrid inconvenience out here. Why seek out a daycare you've NEVER used, for $15 for ONE day?

by on Oct. 21, 2013 at 4:31 PM

As a SAHM i am exempt in my county unless the court wants to provide childcare they should not make people leave their children

by Anonymous 4 on Oct. 21, 2013 at 5:26 PM

 I agree, anyone breastfeeding or have children at home 5yrs. and younger, and are the primary caretaker should be exempt!

by on Oct. 21, 2013 at 6:03 PM

There is already an exemption for the primary caregiver of babies/toddlers here, whether or not breastfeeding is involved.
by on Oct. 21, 2013 at 6:07 PM

not for breastfeeding alone.. you can pump..thats like saying a woman cant go to work because she is breastfeeding lol.  lots of women work and breastfeed.
as for the small children thing... i dont know... i mean... if you dont have anyone to watch your kid... then you dont.  altho for that reason alone ANYONE with a kid under... say 15 years old could use the same excuse.

its like... its an inconvenience.. for ANYONE.  i dont think its fair to say moms shouldnt be inconvenienced.. but people who work and depend on that money from working SHOULD be (yes you cant be fired but you also cant work and get regular pay which means you cany pay bills - like daycare) 

by on Oct. 21, 2013 at 6:25 PM
If the child isn't in daycare or school, either the state provides care or excuses the caregiver from jury duty imo.
by on Oct. 21, 2013 at 8:14 PM
1 mom liked this


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