Jury Duty

Catherine - posted on 06/09/2009 ( 19 moms have responded )

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I am the mother of a 3 month old exclusively breastfed baby. I have been summoned for jury duty next week. We have never left our baby with other caregivers (not even my mom) and I doubt that I am physically capable of pumping enough to make that an option (I have had milk supply problems, and it is a challenge to keep up with his ongoing demands, much less stockpile. At most, I have been able to pump enough to give him a little extra before putting him to bed.)

What is the best way to go about getting a postponement of jury duty? (We live in Utah).

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Geralyn Clancy has a very responsible and resonable suggestion. I'd go with that.



My suggestion? Show up, boobs out and ready to go, and make sure your baby is good and angry and loud while trying to explain (over screams) your circumstances; you'll be on your way home in no time...



Okay, not very realistic, but to the point! On the otherhand, I would get support from your lactation specialist on the matter. No matter what you do, the sooner you do it the better, so you give yourself time to find the necessary resources should they give you a hard time about getting excused.

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Lori - posted on 06/13/2009

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Wow what a good example of how one idiot on a power trip (the clerk) can make things tough for a citizen just trying to get a reasonable solution to a problem!! Good for you for sticking with it and getting through to the right person who would actually be a human being, not a robot. So glad it all worked out, and I hope something can be done to help the next poor mother who has to come up against that ($*#*@ clerk!!

Jana - posted on 06/13/2009

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Great job at sticking up for the health of your baby!!! I think it is horrible that you had to fight so hard just to get your date post-poned. I'm glad that it has been resolved, for now. Good luck for the next time your jury duty calls.

Christina - posted on 06/13/2009

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Wow! You had to jump through so many loops! That is absolutely insane..What state do you live in?? That is really sad that you couldn't have just written a letter...It shouldn't have taken all of that effort on your part. I'm glad it worked out after all!

Catherine - posted on 06/13/2009

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Update...
First off I should clarify: I am completely willing to serve on a jury - just not at a time that is detrimental to the health and well being of my child.

The original jury qualification form listed dates that went from shortly before to shortly after my due date. When I sent in a letter from my midwife and never heard back from them, I assumed that they viewed advanced pregnancy as a legitimate reason to postpone jury duty. The woman who was listed as the court contact told me that she saw that letter, and that is why she didn't sent me a summons until last week.

I called immediately after receiving the letter, to explain my situation and find out what I needed to do to get a postponement. When that was ineffective (that was the conversation where she told me that I could just drop him with some formula at the crisis care center), I decided to drive down to the courthouse and see if I could get more information face to face, and preferably from a different court clerk. Apparently, Bonnie Harward is the only clerk that deals with jurors, so I had to talk to her again.

She told me that there was absolutely nothing that I could do before the date of the summons, and any questions had to be put to the judge personally on that day. She refused to give me a copy of the original form I turned in. I asked her what sort of documentation I would need to be excused from jury duty, and she told me that they do not excuse anyone unless they are having surgery that day. I had considered (advice from my lactation consultant) renting a hospital grade pump to see if I could get enough milk to make it possible to leave my son for a few hours in case I was picked for the jury. I asked her for the form that I would need to get reimbursed from the court, and she told me, "You'll have to ask the judge about that." I asked if I could see the place they theoretically have set aside for breastfeeding/pumping, and she said flat out "No." I asked why, and she told me it was because they have "criminals" back there. (Interesting, since this particular court deals mainly with traffic violations). She also told me that many women go back to work 2 weeks after giving birth, so she didn't see what my problem was. In short, she was determined to do absolutely nothing to help me. One might think that I was the "criminal," instead of the potential juror.

That afternoon, I got a letter from my son's pediatrician and had them fax it directly to the court. I also found out which judge was presiding over the scheduled trial. The next morning, I called the court again, and this time got to speak to a different clerk. When she said she would transfer me to the clerk who handles jurors, I explained the problems I had had with that one, and explained our situation again. Fortunately, the new clerk was reasonable and sympathetic (probably because her own daughter had faced a similar situation while she was nursing). She answered all of my questions, and then personally took my pediatrician's letter before the judge. He agreed to excuse me as long as my name was put back in the jury pool for the period between July 1 - Dec 31. The helpful clerk put in a note specifying that I be called no earlier than September (when my son reaches 6 months of age).

In the course of this experience, I did quite a bit of research. I will post some of the helpful links I found. It is clear to me that the legal system is far behind the medical community when it comes to recognizing the enormous importance of breastfeeding. I intend to do what I can to help remedy this situation.

Jana - posted on 06/10/2009

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You need to show up for sure if you can't take a of things ahead of time. But I agree with trying to postpone your jury duty until later. I would hope that you would be willing to serve on a jury, just not at this current time. Good luck, I hope this gets settled before your call, but I'm sure you will find enough support to convince the judge you need to be a bf'ing mom and not a jury member.

Sarah - posted on 06/10/2009

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You should be able to get out of serving because you are breastfeeding, but I believe you'll probably have to show up for the jury duty call. Explain that you are breastfeeding and they'll probably excuse you.

Nicole - posted on 06/10/2009

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say something crazy- they'll dismiss you during the actual jury selection. it worked for me :)

Bethany - posted on 06/10/2009

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Hey, I live in Utah too and when my baby was 3 weeks old I was summoned for jury duty. I'm surprised at the response you got, because they were great with me! They said no problem and that was that. I thought I would get another one really fast, but that was two years ago. I would bring baby with you, 3 months is too little. You are her only source of nourishment, I think you might have just talked to a crazy lady. Maybe call again and talk to someone else. Good luck, let us know what happens!

Tara - posted on 06/10/2009

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Try contacting your local La Leche League, they may be able to support you in changing the policy. There are policies in work places to help breastfeeding moms there should be for jury duty as well

Lori - posted on 06/10/2009

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Really? Wow, that's outrageous. Have you asked about postponement, instead of being outright excused? Because I postponed my jury duty (in CA they allow bf mothers to postpone up to one year). But I agree that what they told you is ridiculous, and you should be excused. I hope someone challenges that policy in court, to get the laws changed in Utah.

Geralyn - posted on 06/10/2009

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Quoting Catherine:

After talking to the contact named in the summons I was told I can just take the baby and a bottle to the Crisis Care Center, or face up to $1000 fine or 5 days of jail if I decide not to appear. I called our pediatrician and my lactation consultant to ask for letters of support.



Are you kidding me????  I only wish I were an attorney in Utah.  That is unbelieveable.  

Christina - posted on 06/09/2009

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I wrote a letter telling them that I was breastfeeding and not able to be away from my child for more then 2 hrs...also, that I didn't have child care...that was 3 months ago and I havent heard anything back, so I assume its fine. My aunt works for out local County and she told me they excuse Breastfeeding moms...I would write a letter.

Amber - posted on 06/09/2009

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that doesn't sound right. You are the main nourishment and caregiver for your child. I was summoned also but was excused. Good luck!

Alaine - posted on 06/09/2009

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I would contact a lawyer. I am pretty sure that they can't tell you that. I would also consider calling back and asking to talk to a manager or some one with higher authority.

Catherine - posted on 06/09/2009

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After talking to the contact named in the summons I was told I can just take the baby and a bottle to the Crisis Care Center, or face up to $1000 fine or 5 days of jail if I decide not to appear. I called our pediatrician and my lactation consultant to ask for letters of support.

Hillbillywoman - posted on 06/09/2009

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Just explain your situation to them. I am a homeschooling mom who also does child day care in my home. When I received a summons for jury duty, I returned the summons explaining that I am the sole provider of my children's education, as well as the sole provider of child care to several families whose parents work. I was excused from duty.

Geralyn - posted on 06/09/2009

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I do not know the rules in Utah, but in CA, breastfeeding moms are excused. I simply had to submit a form and it was granted. Call the jury commissioner's office right away. It would be absolutely impossible for you to fulfill jury duty. If there is no process for getting excused before the actual day, then try when you get to the courthouse. I am sure that the judge would excuse you. Good luck!

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