Breastfeeding and Jury Duty, Q&A with Jake Aryeh Marcus, J.D - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-01-2010, 02:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello MDCers - in response to questions concerning breastfeeding and jury duty, Mothering Politics Editor Jake Aryeh Marcus, J.D., will answer your questions about jury duty, mothering and making these laws more parenting friendly.

Jake will be answering questions in this thread starting Tuesday, June 1st. Please feel free to post your questions below and Jake will do her best to get to them as soon as possible.

From Jake:

"Moms are often called for jury duty. What do you do if you are still breastfeeding or can't get child care? Which state laws might help you? Does it matter if you are working outside of the home? What can happen if you show up to court with your kids in tow?"

Post your questions below. Thanks for taking part!

--Melanie, Mothering's Web Editor

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Old 06-01-2010, 03:06 PM
 
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Neither is an automatic disqualification (which are listed in the summons you receive), but here in Boston, MA, nursing moms and SAHM's without regular childcare arrangements for non-school age kids usually can delay serving. You have to go at the time you are called appear, but when you explain your situation respectfully and acknowledge that when you are not nursing or your kids are in school/daycare that you will serve w/o question, it's not a problem.
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Old 06-01-2010, 03:13 PM
 
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What can happen if you show up to court with your kids in tow?"
I'd like to know the answer to this one.

I was called for duty when my first baby was only a few days old. California allows breastfeeding moms or sole/primary caregivers to get a postponement. My name went back into the pile, but it's been 6 years since then and I haven't heard from them still.
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Old 06-01-2010, 03:21 PM
 
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Hmm...in my state being a SAHM is an automatic excuse. It doesn't say anything about breastfeeding, though. But it seems to me that only unemployed mothers face this issue - working mothers already have childcare and/or arrangements for breastfeeding or pumping while away from the child.

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Old 06-01-2010, 03:58 PM
 
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Hmm...in my state being a SAHM is an automatic excuse. It doesn't say anything about breastfeeding, though. But it seems to me that only unemployed mothers face this issue - working mothers already have childcare and/or arrangements for breastfeeding or pumping while away from the child.
Working moms may have childcare, but it might not be the right hours and might be in the opposite direction from the courthouse. And, while they likely have made arrangements to pump at work, I don't know how that would work in court as the 1 time I served in jury duty we certainly did not have breaks that would be sufficient for pumping, nor was there a private location to do so.

I am in MA where there is no exemption for nursing moms and was called to serve 1 week after my due date. I got excused no problem, but it was stressful since they didn't tell me I was excused until that week. I was in the hospital unsure if I'd be released in time to serve, should I not get excused. Not fun. They gave me a 6 month extension, but it has been just over a year and I haven't heard anything since.
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Old 06-01-2010, 04:09 PM
 
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Old 06-01-2010, 04:16 PM
 
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That's really difficult. That's good that you other ladies were able to get out of it, but for me I'd probably want to do it just because it might be interesting.


I'd probably pump and save up some milk in the freezer beforehand. The big problem would be getting childcare arranged - because we never use any at all - as well as not leaking all over the place!!

You said there aren't always long enough breaks to pump...that would be a problem for me! My boobs would explode and they haven't made a nursing pad yet that can hold it! So I think that's pretty horrible!
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Old 06-01-2010, 04:35 PM
 
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I've been curious about this too. I've been called twice now in AZ in the past 2.5 years. As an independent self-employed chiropractor, if I don't work, I don't get paid, but I have to cancel all my appts in order to show up for one day and explain that before they will excuse me. This summons, however, I am on bedrest for the remainder of my (first) pregnancy, and that will provide medical excuse, but I am likely to get summoned again in another 6mos (wish I knew why they liked pulling my name so frequently) and was wondering what would happen if I do show up with my nursling? (who will be at work with me, so daycare will still not be an option). While I know that our jury system relies on "the common people" to provide a jury of peers, I would much prefer to hire professional individuals who have the time, patience, and skills to be there.
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Old 06-01-2010, 06:20 PM
 
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I'm here! Sorry it was quiet and I went into a meeting. I'll get to answering the questions below now.

Jake

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melanie Mayo View Post
Hello MDCers - in response to questions concerning breastfeeding and jury duty, Mothering Politics Editor Jake Aryeh Marcus, J.D., will answer your questions about jury duty, mothering and making these laws more parenting friendly.

Jake will be answering questions in this thread starting Tuesday, June 1st. Please feel free to post your questions below and Jake will do her best to get to them as soon as possible.

From Jake:

"Moms are often called for jury duty. What do you do if you are still breastfeeding or can't get child care? Which state laws might help you? Does it matter if you are working outside of the home? What can happen if you show up to court with your kids in tow?"

Post your questions below. Thanks for taking part!

--Melanie, Mothering's Web Editor


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Old 06-01-2010, 06:32 PM
 
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Okay, for starters, you may receive a jury duty summons for either state or federal court and your options are different depending on which court has called you. Some states have only one federal court but some have two. Ohio, where I gave a session on this issue in April, has three courts that may summon you: Ohio state court, the Southern District of Ohio and the Northern District of Ohio.

Very few states and no federal courts have exemptions from jury duty on the basis of a woman breastfeeding. However, a fair number of courts (both state and federal) have mechanisms whereby you can be temporarily excused if you are the primary caretaker of a family member. These exemptions or excuse procedures cover more people but are often overlooked when a women asks for an exemption on the basis that she is breastfeeding. We live in a time when many people have aging parents who they must care for. So there are often exemptions available for primary caregivers that will apply to breastfeeding women. The problem for women who WOH and pump is that this will not apply to them. I am not aware of any case law regarding allowing pump breaks for jurors and there are no statutes.

Okay there is some info for starters.

There is a great deal of useful information at http://www.FamilyFriendlyJuryDuty.com . However, the site is no longer being updated so you can't depend on the specific statutes there. You can start there but you must check to see whether the law governing the court that has called you is still the same.

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Old 06-01-2010, 06:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by gatorgirl11 View Post
I'd like to know the answer to this one.

I was called for duty when my first baby was only a few days old. California allows breastfeeding moms or sole/primary caregivers to get a postponement. My name went back into the pile, but it's been 6 years since then and I haven't heard from them still.
You ask what might happen if you show up to court with your kids in tow.

It is very upsetting to me how often I see this offered as a suggestion when this discussion comes up on-line. Every judge OWNS his or her courtroom to a degree that shocks most people. The judge has the power to take you into custody both if he/she finds you in contempt or merely by ordering it without any charge. Judges have the power to take your children from you and either put them into state care through the dependency (foster) system or put them in the day care that family courts in particular often have on site. You have been ordered to appear in court but the children have not. You must stay if you are ordered but the children do not.

In one case in (I think) Ohio, the judge held the mom in contempt and said the children would be placed in the foster system if the child's father didn't show up to take them within a fixed period of time (I think he was given an hour). I have been taken out of a courtroom in cuffs for making a judge mad and I was representing someone at the time. You don't want to risk this if you have your children with you.

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Old 06-01-2010, 06:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jdubisar View Post
I've been curious about this too. I've been called twice now in AZ in the past 2.5 years. As an independent self-employed chiropractor, if I don't work, I don't get paid, but I have to cancel all my appts in order to show up for one day and explain that before they will excuse me. This summons, however, I am on bedrest for the remainder of my (first) pregnancy, and that will provide medical excuse, but I am likely to get summoned again in another 6mos (wish I knew why they liked pulling my name so frequently) and was wondering what would happen if I do show up with my nursling? (who will be at work with me, so daycare will still not be an option). While I know that our jury system relies on "the common people" to provide a jury of peers, I would much prefer to hire professional individuals who have the time, patience, and skills to be there.
I think I answered the first bit about not bringing your kids but have you checked to see if you can apply for an excuse by mail or telephone rather than appearing in person?

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Old 06-01-2010, 06:45 PM
 
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That's really difficult. That's good that you other ladies were able to get out of it, but for me I'd probably want to do it just because it might be interesting.


I'd probably pump and save up some milk in the freezer beforehand. The big problem would be getting childcare arranged - because we never use any at all - as well as not leaking all over the place!!

You said there aren't always long enough breaks to pump...that would be a problem for me! My boobs would explode and they haven't made a nursing pad yet that can hold it! So I think that's pretty horrible!
I see you are from Ohio. I have my Ohio PowerPoint up-to-date because I spoke in Cleveland (and had a GREAT time, btw, a big shout out to LLL of Ohio!) in April. Would you like me to cut and paste my PowerPoint slides here so you can see Ohio law today and people can get an idea of all the places they need to look for information in their own states?

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Old 06-01-2010, 07:39 PM
 
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If a mom has to pump, would a note from a doctor explaining how frequently and how long the breaks have to be helpful to either get the mom excused or achieve an arrangement that would be workable?

I was called to serve when I was 1 week postpartum with ds1. I postponed and served 6 months later (i worked full-time). When I showed up to the court with my pump in tow, I told a court-officer that i would need a place to pump pump...of course, all the offices had windows in them and they faced either a busy hallway or a busy street! So I wound up pumping in an office under a raincoat!.
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Old 06-01-2010, 08:10 PM
 
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Hi - I live in RI and received a jury duty summons while pregnant with my second child. I was due to appear in court just a week or so after my due date. I called the number on the form and they excused me no questions asked...did not have to appear the day of or wait to hear back or anything. I've always wanted to serve on a jury so I was dissapointed at the timing and hope I get called again...But...anyway...sounds like RI is pretty easy anyway - I mean, they didn't even ask for proof or anything -
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Old 06-01-2010, 10:12 PM
 
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You know, there are moms with philosophical reasons not to use bottles...boy, I'm glad I haven't been called postpartum.

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Old 06-01-2010, 10:38 PM
 
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If a mom has to pump, would a note from a doctor explaining how frequently and how long the breaks have to be helpful to either get the mom excused or achieve an arrangement that would be workable?

I was called to serve when I was 1 week postpartum with ds1. I postponed and served 6 months later (i worked full-time). When I showed up to the court with my pump in tow, I told a court-officer that i would need a place to pump pump...of course, all the offices had windows in them and they faced either a busy hallway or a busy street! So I wound up pumping in an office under a raincoat!.
Whether needing to pump (and a doctors note is always a good idea) will be considered a medical necessity under any individual court's medical exemption is done on a case by case basis by individual courts. It is always worth a try but there is no telling whether it will work.

Infuriating but sadly predictable that they did not give you a private place to pump. The law does not require that they give you either a break or a place to pump while you are on jury duty.

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Old 06-01-2010, 10:48 PM
 
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Hi - I live in RI and received a jury duty summons while pregnant with my second child. I was due to appear in court just a week or so after my due date. I called the number on the form and they excused me no questions asked...did not have to appear the day of or wait to hear back or anything. I've always wanted to serve on a jury so I was dissapointed at the timing and hope I get called again...But...anyway...sounds like RI is pretty easy anyway - I mean, they didn't even ask for proof or anything -
If you were called in federal court, there is an excuse in the District Court of Rhode Island for primary caretakers of children under age 10. In state court, there is no family caretaker excuse but, as in much of the country, county by county different courts have different practices.

I live in Pennsylvania where state law offers no excuse or exemption from jury duty for breastfeeding or caretaking for a family member. However, in my county I was excused each of the 4 times I was called while I was breastfeeding. One county over women have been threatened with contempt citations for even asking for postponing due to either breastfeeding or being a primary caretaker.

Don't worry, you are likely to get called when you are able to go. I got a notice a year or so ago, all my kids having weaned but still faced with child care problems because I home school. I arranged for child care but my number wasn't called. Go figure.

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Old 06-01-2010, 11:25 PM
 
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Logging off for tonight but I will be back tomorrow. Keep the questions coming.

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Old 06-02-2010, 12:57 AM
 
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I'd like to know the answer to this one.

I was called for duty when my first baby was only a few days old. California allows breastfeeding moms or sole/primary caregivers to get a postponement. My name went back into the pile, but it's been 6 years since then and I haven't heard from them still.
In the Court I practice in, most of the Sheriff Officers who are on jail/courthouse duty will not allow you into the Courtroom with children, especially young children.

Basically fill out your summons information and return it requesting that you be excused because you are the sole care taker of minor children ages A-B, and that you are not able to afford or find child care. You will generally be given a pass/deferral for another time.
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Old 06-02-2010, 01:28 AM
 
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That is a little shocking I guess you can not get pumping breaks, or rather, there is no protection that you are given one. I can't imagine being made to sit for hours, unable to pump, especially with a young infant in which you normally nurse every 2 hours or more often. That does seem to present a medical problem as it could cause an infection,etc (mastitis.)

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Old 06-02-2010, 04:29 AM
 
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I don't have kids yet, and I've been called twice. The first time was in college and I had no transportation. They weren't happy about it, but I got excused because of that. A few years later, my roommate got called, and wrote a letter claiming religious exemption.

If you know your state/county doesn't give exemptions to breastfeeding mothers, then why not just claim religious exemption? Obviously we need to continue to work on changing the laws so we don't have to lie, but won't this work for the time being? I'd much rather say that than risk my HFC (hypothetical future child) being taken to foster care because the judge is a jerk.

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Old 06-02-2010, 09:27 AM
 
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I was called while in Florida and had to pump on the bathroom floor. They came looking for me in the bathroom and knocked on my stall. I fortunately was not chosen.

In the county I live in NC, there are no exemptions for full time caregivers or breastfeeding mothers; other than a one time 6 month exemption for any reason. Each surrounding county, however, has an exemption. There are no state laws in NC though. There is an on-site child care area for children for parents serving.

I wrote our sentators and congressman to no avail.

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Old 06-02-2010, 11:34 AM
 
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In the Court I practice in, most of the Sheriff Officers who are on jail/courthouse duty will not allow you into the Courtroom with children, especially young children.

Basically fill out your summons information and return it requesting that you be excused because you are the sole care taker of minor children ages A-B, and that you are not able to afford or find child care. You will generally be given a pass/deferral for another time.
in some courts in some jurisdictions this works, however in many it does not. One must be sure that you have been excused from appearance before failing to appear for a jury duty summons.

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Old 06-02-2010, 11:38 AM
 
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That is a little shocking I guess you can not get pumping breaks, or rather, there is no protection that you are given one. I can't imagine being made to sit for hours, unable to pump, especially with a young infant in which you normally nurse every 2 hours or more often. That does seem to present a medical problem as it could cause an infection,etc (mastitis.)

I absolutely agree that it does cause a medical problem and it should be seen as one. Bringing a letter from a doctor to this effect is highly recommended. It just doesn't assure you will get a postponement. If you must serve and you do believe you are starting to get an infection, it is important to inform the court so you can get a doctor to see you. It may take a judge being faced with a mistrial because a juror must be excused during a trial for court practices to change.

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Old 06-02-2010, 11:40 AM
 
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I don't have kids yet, and I've been called twice. The first time was in college and I had no transportation. They weren't happy about it, but I got excused because of that. A few years later, my roommate got called, and wrote a letter claiming religious exemption.

If you know your state/county doesn't give exemptions to breastfeeding mothers, then why not just claim religious exemption? Obviously we need to continue to work on changing the laws so we don't have to lie, but won't this work for the time being? I'd much rather say that than risk my HFC (hypothetical future child) being taken to foster care because the judge is a jerk.

What sort of religious exemption? I don't recall ever seeing one and I don't think one would be easy to get.

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Old 06-02-2010, 11:43 AM
 
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I was called while in Florida and had to pump on the bathroom floor. They came looking for me in the bathroom and knocked on my stall. I fortunately was not chosen.

In the county I live in NC, there are no exemptions for full time caregivers or breastfeeding mothers; other than a one time 6 month exemption for any reason. Each surrounding county, however, has an exemption. There are no state laws in NC though. There is an on-site child care area for children for parents serving.

I wrote our sentators and congressman to no avail.
The most successful efforts for legislation are those that bring together several interest groups. The has been a good bit of resistance to breastfeeding exemption statutes. However, primary caretaker exceptions bring together all people who are primary caretakers of children as well as elderly or disabled parents and spouses.

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Old 06-02-2010, 10:57 PM
 
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I'll be available for the foreseeable future. Please post to bump if necessary.

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Old 06-02-2010, 10:59 PM
 
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I'm from VA and I haven't been called for Jury duty yet and I have a 3yr old and a 3month old who I am still nursing. What is VA's policy on Breastfeeding mothers and SAHM?
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Old 06-02-2010, 11:36 PM
 
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I'm from VA and I haven't been called for Jury duty yet and I have a 3yr old and a 3month old who I am still nursing. What is VA's policy on Breastfeeding mothers and SAHM?
You are in luck! Take a look at http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp...1-341.1+706684 . Virginia Code Section 8.01-341.1 (8) states: "Exemptions from Jury Duty Upon Request:

8. A person who has legal custody of and is necessarily and personally responsible for a child or children 16 years of age or younger requiring continuous care by him during normal court hours, or any mother who is breast-feeding a child,"

So if you get a jury duty summons, you need to ask how to make a request for an exemption. There should be a form. There may even be a box to check on the summons itself.

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